An article published last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine recommends that electronic prescriptions include treatment indications to better monitor off-label use of prescription drugs, CMIO reports.
For the study, researchers at McGill University in Montreal reviewed 253,347 e-prescriptions for 50,823 patients written by 113 primary care physicians between January 2005 and December 2009.
The e-prescriptions were issued through the Medical Office of the XXI Century electronic health record network in Quebec, Canada. The network requires health care providers to document treatment indications for each prescription.
The researchers classified 11% of the e-prescriptions studied as being written for off-label use.
Based on the findings, they concluded that "off-label prescribing is common in primary care and varies by drug class, the number of approved indications for the drug, the age of the drug, the patients' sex and physicians' attitude toward evidence-based medicine."
They added that EHR systems "can be used to document treatment indication at the time of prescribing and may pave the way for enhanced postmarketing evaluation of drugs if linked to treatment outcomes" (Byers, CMIO, 4/20).