Intended for healthcare professionals


Off label prescribing in children

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 10 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:338

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. S Guiton, veterinary surgeon (
  1. 12 Ruby Place, Bath, BA2 4EH
  2. Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand 9001
  3. 32 The Avenue, Radlett, Hertfordshire WD7 7DW

    EDITOR—We read with interest the articles regarding off licence prescribing in children and agree that prescribing in children must improve.14 It will be difficult to change the prescribing habits of doctors treating children. If only licensed drugs were prescribed, it would greatly restrict the pharmaceutical choice for that age group. We found it of particular interest that the formulary approved by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (Medicines for Children) states that doctors who prescribe for a child should choose the medicine that offers the best prospect for the child, with due regard to cost and that in general it is not necessary to obtain the explicit consent of parents, carers, or child patients to prescribe or administer licensed medicines for unlicensed applications or unlicensed medicines.5

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    In stark contrast to this the Small Animal Formulary (4th ed) approved by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association states that when using non-authorised products informed written consent should be obtained from clients, to reduce any liability that may fall on veterinary …

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