Unlicensed and off-label use of medicines in children admitted to the intensive care units of a hospital in Malaysia
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Background Unlicensed and off-label use of medicines in paediatrics is widespread. However, the incidence of this practice in Malaysia has not been reported. Objective To determine the extent of unlicensed and off-label use of medicines in hospitalised children in the intensive care units of a tertiary care teaching hospital. Methods A prospective, observational exploratory study was conducted on medicines prescribed to children admitted to the 3 intensive care units of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (UKMMC). Results A total of 194 patients were admitted to UKMMC, 168 of them received one or more drugs. Of 1,295 prescriptions, 353 (27.3 %) were unlicensed and 442 (34.1 %) were for off-label use. Forty-four percent of patients received at least one medicine for unlicensed use and 82.1 % received at least one medicine off-label. Preterm infants, children aged 28 days to 23 months, patients with hospital stays of more than 2 weeks, and those prescribed increasing numbers of medicines were more likely to receive medicines for unlicensed use. Term neonates and patients prescribed increasing numbers of medicines had increased risk of receiving medicines for off-label use. Conclusion Prescribing of medicines in an unlicensed or off-label fashion to the children in the intensive care units of UKMMC was common. Further detailed studies are necessary to ensure the delivery of safe and effective medicines to children.
KeywordsDrug information Hospitalised children Intensive care unit Malaysia Off-label prescribing Unlicensed prescribing
The authors would like to thank Dr. Juriza Ismail, paediatrician at the UKMMC for her assistance in this research. Special thanks to the staff of the PICU, PHDU and NICU, UKMMC for the support throughout the research.
No funding was received for this research.
Conflicts of interest
No conflicts of interest to declare.
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