SERMO Collaborates on Landmark Study: Off-label Drug Use

pill and bottles, MGH off label study, MIT off label study, off label study

The Sermo community has the opportunity to host a landmark study to discover how physicians share novel off-label drug uses.

The researchers conducting the study are Eric von Hippel, the T. Wilson Professor of Technological Innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Harold Demonaco, the Director of the Innovation Support Center at MGH and Jeroen P.J. de Jong, associate professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

The team shared their approach for the study

Discovery of new, off label uses for FDA-approved drugs is a very valuable type of clinical innovation. Our research shows that clinicians discover most of the really valuable off-label uses for FDA approved drugs. (DeMonaco et al Pharmacotherapy 2006:3;323-332) BUT we also suspect that many clinicians do not have a convenient way to tell others about their discoveries – reducing diffusion.

In order to document that problem – and maybe fix it – we need to know more about how many physicians have made off-label discoveries and how many have published their findings or diffused them in other ways.

Here are two examples of the type of off-label discoveries we are talking about:

  • A practicing anesthesiologist first identified the use of propofol in the treatment of epidural and intrathecal morphine. We contacted the first author who indicated that the observation was serendipitous with the administration of a subtherapeutic dose of propofol in a patient who complained of intense itching and nausea after epidural morphine. (Borgeat et al. Anesthesiology 1992;76:510-512).
  • The use of bevacizumab in the treatment of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis was first reported in a case report by a practicing otolaryngologist. (Nagel et al Pneumologie. 63(7):387-9, 2009 Jul.).

“We’re excited to partner with Sermo and offer the accompanying series of poll questions to see how many of you have personally discovered or believe you discovered a valuable off-label use for an FDA-approved drug – and, if so, whether and how you have spread the news,” wrote von Hippel.

Again, our goal is to understand how often clinicians – true experts in their trade – come upon off-label drug innovations that can potentially be very valuable to medical practice if widely diffused. We will report back our findings to you via Sermo upon the poll’s completion.

Who knows – maybe we can build a novel form of clinical trials based upon crowdsourced collaborative testing on Sermo – helping to speed the diffusion of the most valuable clinician discoveries to all medical practitioners.

Did you discover an off-label use for a drug? Did you hear of an off-label use from a peer and apply it to a patient or patients? If you’re an M.D. or D.O. we’d love to have you answer our brief 10 question poll, please join us inside Sermo and contribute to the conversation of this landmark study.



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