Understanding Off-label Use of Prescription Medicines

When a pharmaceutical company develops a new drug, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will approve it for one disease, called an indication. However, medicines have more than one effect. When doctors note these good effects in other diseases and begin to use them, it is called "off-label" use.

This is a very common and legal practice. Most of the medicines used to treat skin conditions are used in this off-label manner. Antibiotics are normally used for bacterial infections but have wonderful effects against the inflammation seen in acne and lupus. Cyclosporine helps patients maintain their organ transplants. It also works wonders for psoriasis and lichen planus. BOTOX® is indicated only for the treatment of lines between the eyes, but helps people look their best in other areas as well. Spironolactone is a blood pressure lowering agent, but helps people control acne, hair loss, and increased hair growth.

Off-label use keeps us looking good, and also helps us stay alive!

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