The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) apparently believes that Americans are taking enough prescription drugs. After all, our country has only 4.3% of the world's population but consumes 48% of the world's prescription drugs ... but that's not enough. Now the FDA wants to allow drug companies to promote off-label uses of their drugs to doctors so more prescriptions can be written.
It's not like this is a new subject because off-label uses are already an estimated 21% of drug sales. Drug manufacturers want even more because it can mean additional sales ... lots of additional sales. For example, Risperdal was used off-label 66% of the time according to the Archives of Internal Medicine study from 2006. Anybody think this isn't about the money?
It's a complicated issue because drug manufacturers sued the agency in the 1990's for violating their freedom of speech. The Justice Department has been involved with a number of high-profile whistleblower lawsuits for off-label promotion so there's strong desire by the drug companies to get the situation nailed down ... to their advantage.