Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Clin Ther. 2006 Oct;28(10):1736-46; discussion 1710-1.

Trends in off-label beta-blocker use: a secondary data analysis.

Author information

College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60612-7230, USA.



The off-label use of beta-blockers might be prevalent, but no studies have provided empiric data on the off-label use based on utilization data.


This secondary data analysis was conducted to describe the trends of off-label use of beta-blockers among ambulatory visits made to office-based physicians in the United States.


Data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys from 1999 to 2002 were used in this study. Physician visits at which beta-blockers were prescribed (beta-blocker visits) were included and classified as within-label or off-label visits according to whether an approved indication for the beta-blocker was coded for the visits. Variables of patient demographic characteristics, diagnosis, prescriber's specialty, and concomitant medication use were also analyzed. Logistic regression analysis was employed to investigate the potential determinants for the off-label use of beta-blockers.


A total of 3349 million visits were made to office-based physicians during the study period. About 65% (2167 million) of all visits were prescribed with > or =1 medication (medication visits). Beta-blockers were prescribed in 5.9% (127.3 million) of all medication visits in the years 1999 to 2002. The 3 most frequently prescribed beta-blockers in this study were atenolol, metoprolol, and propranolol. The proportions of off-label use among beta-blocker visits were 44.3% (1999), 56.3% (2000), 62.3% (2001), and 46.9% (2002); overall, 52.0% (66.2 million). About 11% (75.7 million) of these off-label uses were prescribed to patients with concomitant conditions that required judicious use of beta-blockers. Specialists, such as cardiologists, were more likely to prescribe beta-blockers for off-label use than primary care physicians (odds ratio, 2.147; 95% CI, 2.1464-2.1473).


Our study found that the off-label use rate of beta-blockers was higher than what has been previously reported for other diseases and medications. Compared with visits made to general practitioners, visits made to specialists were more likely to be prescribed off-label use of beta-blockers. Future studies are needed to understand the legal, economic, and clinical impact of off-label use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center