|Description||Objective— To examine off-label utilization and costs of antihypertensive drugs in children using a national sample of prescription claims. Design— Cross-sectional study. Setting— 2002 Medstat MarketScan Database, a national sample of outpatient prescription claims of children ≥18 years old enrolled in private, employer-sponsored health plans. Main Outcome Measures— Off-label use of antihypertensive drugs by patient age and costs of
antihypertensives calculated as mean cost per child per 30-day fill.
Results— One-half of the index antihypertensive prescription claims were off-label, based on minimum age criteria. Boys were more likely (56%) than girls (46%) to be prescribed off-label antihypertensives (p<0.001). Children aged ≥12 years were more likely to be prescribed off-label antihypertensives (53%) compared with children aged ≥5 (46%) and 6–11 years (42%, p<0.001). Off-label use varied significantly by class of antihypertensive drugs (p<0.001). Overall, off-label antihypertensives were significantly more expensive than on-label antihypertensives. Conclusions— Despite availability of often less expensive on-label alternatives for the same class of antihypertensive drugs, off-label antihypertensive drugs were prescribed frequently in children. These findings underscore the potential clinical and economic implications of common off-label prescribing, for children, their parents, physicians and payers. Originally published Ambulatory Pediatrics, Vol. 7, No. 4, July 2007||en_US