Prescription medications are commonly used for purposes other than the approved ones, and the same is so with drugs purchased from an online pharmacy. First off, using a drug off-label simply means that the FDA has not approved the use of the medication for a particular condition but this does not make it illegal. Doctors prescribe medications off-label all the time as it gives them more treatment options. The issue that this poses for the user is that the drug may not be covered by the insurance company for off-label uses, which is why online pharmacies make it easier to order medication online for cheap.
The practice of using a drug off-label is common in the US and one need not be worried about doing it. Sometimes, you may not even be aware that the medication you are taking is not the actual approved use. If you do not fully understand how buying medications online for off-label uses is highly common and often a necessity, read on to learn more.
Understanding FDA labels when buying medications online
The US FDA regulates all the drugs that are available. Approval for any drug is done only after reviewing the application data submitted by the drug company. All medications must carry the information label on the product and have a package insert with the complete details. This labeling provides the information for the approved uses for the drug, methods of administration, age group that can be treated with the drug, and side effects. This information is a guide for the prescribing healthcare provider. Prescription medications purchased using an online pharmacy will also have these labeling data as all drugs must carry them.
Why doctors prescribe medications off-label
Doctors prescribe medications off-label for a number of reasons. Even if you use the online doctor service offered by online drugstores, there are chances of getting the medication for an unapproved use if it is deemed suitable for your condition. Some of the ways drugs are prescribed off-label are:
- Using a medication for a condition that has not been approved by the FDA
- Administering the drug in a way that is not approved, like using oral tablets as suppositories for those who have difficulty swallowing
- Administering the drug to a patient group that has not a been part of clinical studies like pregnant women, children, and those with psychiatric issues
Lack of FDA approval does not mean that a drug is unsafe when used this way but that the drug company has not submitted an application for that particular use. This common practice helps when there are limited options for certain health problems and other medications could have better efficacy on the patient. The off-label prescription is provided by the doctor only after assessing the patient and understanding the condition thoroughly so it will be safe. The doctor is usually not obliged to inform the patient about the off-label prescription but will do so if it is a novel treatment plan or if it affects the insurance cover.
What you should understand before purchasing medications online for off-label use
Order the off-label drug that you are required to take online after fully understanding the implications. The risk of side effects is higher when using a drug off-label and it would be helpful to know about them in prior. Check if the insurance company will cover the medication for you. Lack of insurance is usually not an issue when ordering online as you can get the drugs at a very low price. Despite the medication being prescribed off-label, it should be taken only as directed by the doctor.