Researchers from various U.S. pediatric hospitals have determined that nearly four out of five hospitalized children receive medications that have been evaluated and approved only for use in adults. The Pediatric Health Information Systems Research Group analyzed records from 31 major children's hospitals for a year and found that at least one drug was used off-label in 79% of 355,000 children requiring hospitalization. Although the practice of prescribing drugs off-label in pediatrics is nothing new, over the past 10 years, federal regulators have provided financial incentives to pharmaceutical companies to test and seek approval for their products in children. The study found the types of medications most likely to be used off-label were drugs used on the central or autonomic nervous systems as well as nutrients and gastrointestinal agents. Children were also more likely to receive an off-label medication if they underwent surgery or had severe illnesses.
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