Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Risk Saf Med. 2014;26(2):61-70. doi: 10.3233/JRS-140613.

Awareness about and views of parents on the off-label drug use in children.

Author information

Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Seth GS Medical College & KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, India.
Department of Pediatrics, TNMC and BYL Nair Hospital, Mumbai, India.



Off-label use of drugs is widely prevalent in children mainly due to a limited data generated in children during drug development process. Parents play a critical role in giving consent for their child to participate in clinical trials. Very few studies have assessed the opinion of the parents regarding such use and permitting their child to participate in clinical trials.


In view of lack of information about the awareness among parents regarding both off-label drug use in children as well as about allowing their child to participate in clinical research especially from a developing country, this study was conducted.


Adults accompanying patients in a tertiary care hospital were administered a validated, structured questionnaire following written informed consent. The questionnaire consisted of 18 items broadly divided into 5 themes - parental views on safety and labelled use of drugs in children, awareness of off-label drug use in children, communication from healthcare worker about it, parental views on off-label drug use in children and willingness to allow their child to participate in a clinical trial. Chi-square or Fisher's exact probability test and McNemar's test were used for analysis.


Initially, a majority of the participants felt that the drugs used in children in hospital (89.5%) and prescribed by a family physician (80.3%) were either safe or extremely safe while after the concept of off-label drug use is explained, a significant reduction in the proportion (59.3% in hospital and 59.8% by family physician) of parents felt the same. Only 30% parents were aware of off-label drug use in children. Ninety-three percent of the parents wanted to be informed whenever a doctor prescribes a drug in an off-label manner and a similar percentage felt the off-label drug use would increase the side-effects. Seventy three percent parents felt the off-label drug use is illegal and 57% would ask for change to a labelled drug in case of such prescription in their children. A majority of the parents would allow their child to participate in case of a life-threatening condition (59.8%) or in case of a chronic illness (51.3%) but significantly less when their child is healthy.


The present study has found a low level of awareness regarding the concept of off-label drug use in children amongst the public. Our study also shows that parents expect that the doctor explains the fact to them, although they appear to vest a large amount of trust in the doctor's judgement in doing the best for their sick child. Parents were more willing to allow their child's participation in clinical research if their child was seriously ill than if healthy, indicating the need to educate the society about the need for clinical research so that they could take more informed decisions.


Awareness; children; clinical trials; off-label drug use; parents

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for IOS Press
Loading ...
Support Center