While the FDA finally approved the use of Botox to treat stroke victims (suffering damage to their arms and hands) this past March, doctors have been injecting it into stroke victims for nearly twenty years in a practice called “off-label” prescribing.
“Off-label” basically means that physicians use certain drugs to treat conditions for which they have not been tested or given the green light by the Food and Drug Administration. The practice is legal, and strongly backed by the American Medical Association. In fact, “approximately 20% of all medications prescribed for adults are for off-label purposes,” according to research from Stanford University and the Institute of Medicine, a federally chartered non-profit group that advises government agencies as well as the public. The Institute also estimates that the off-label use of prescriptions for children is closer to 50%-75%.
Not only is Botox being used for the treatment of stroke victims (including legs and feet), it is also being used on children with cerebral palsy by cutting down involuntary muscle contractions and improving movement; migraine headache suffers by reducing inflammation and decreasing pain receptor activity; and men with enlarged prostates, enabling them to urinate easier.
Some of the other commonly prescribed medications now being used off-label include the diabetic drugs Avandia and Actos to treat autism in children, the cancer drug Avastin for treatment of age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, Neurotin, an anticonvulsant found to be effective for both bipolar disorder and essential tremor as well as hot flashes, and some long-term antibiotics (normally used to kill off bacterial infections) against Lyme disease, which many doctors believe to be chronic.
June 7, 7:17 for the Hartford Wellness Examiner by Diana Duel