Circulation. Cardiovascular quality and outcomes | 2019
Randomized Study of Providing Evidence Context to Mitigate Physician Misinterpretation Arising From Off-Label Drug Promotion.
BACKGROUND\nRecent court decisions have thrown into question the Food and Drug Administration s rules limiting manufacturer promotion of prescription drugs for unapproved uses. We assessed how providing pro forma disclosures or more descriptive evidence context about the data supporting an off-label claim affected physicians beliefs about drug efficacy.\n\n\nMETHODS AND RESULTS\nIn online and mailed surveys, we randomized national samples of board-certified, clinically active cardiologists, internists, and endocrinologists to receive 1 of 3 information scenarios about a hypothetical drug derived verbatim from excerpts on the website for Vascepa, a prescription fish oil for which Food and Drug Administration specially permitted off-label promotion after a manufacturer lawsuit. The scenarios presented information about the approved on-label indication (severe hypertriglyceridemia), off-label claim + pro forma disclaimers (suggestive but not conclusive evidence for use as an add-on to a statin for patients reaching low-density lipoprotein goal but with persistent moderate hypertriglyceridemia), and off-label claim + evidence context (eg, reports on 3 trials failing to demonstrate cardiovascular benefit of other triglyceride-lowering drugs for such patients). Among 686 respondents (48% response rate), 29% reported receiving off-label information about Vascepa (ie, use as an add-on to a statin) from the manufacturer, and 16% had prescribed it off-label for this purpose. Off-label prescribing was 5 times higher among physicians who received such off-label information (38% versus 7%, P<0.001). For the hypothetical drug, the proportion of physicians endorsing the unproven claim that the drug reduced cardiovascular risk was similar among those randomized to the on-label and off-label claim + pro forma disclaimers scenarios (35% versus 37% [95% CI, -6% to 11%]), but substantially lower among those randomized to the off-label claim + evidence context scenario (21% [95% CI, -24% to 7%]).\n\n\nCONCLUSIONS\nPhysicians who received company information about the unapproved use of Vascepa were more likely to report prescribing it off-label. Supplementing off-label claims with evidence context improved the prescribers knowledge and reduced enthusiasm for the unproven, off-label indication of reducing cardiovascular risk.