BAP Position Statement: Off-label prescribing of psychotropic medication to children and adolescents
The off-label use of medicines for children and adolescents remains a common and important issue for prescribing practice across child and adolescent psychiatry, paediatrics and primary care. This editorial focusses on psychotropic drug treatment, which plays an essential part in the comprehensive management of a range of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. Despite a growing evidence base for drug treatment in child and adolescent psychiatric disorders, much psychotropic medication continues to be prescribed off-label (i.e. outside the limits of the marketing authorisation or product license). The reasons for and implications of off-label prescribing, including the potential clinical benefits/risks and medico-legal implications, are often poorly understood by both patients and prescribers. An important unintended consequence of the uncertainties and confusion surrounding the status of off-label prescribing for children and adolescents may be that effective drug treatments are being withheld or underused. This BAP Position Statement aims to clarify these issues, challenge some of the myths surrounding off-label prescribing for children and adolescents and offer practical guidance for prescribers.