Recent Blog Articles
Masks save lives: Here’s what you need to know
Stretching studios: Do you need what they offer?
Why are women more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease?
Seeing red? 4 steps to try before responding
Tics and TikTok: Can social media trigger illness?
Pandemic challenges may affect babies — possibly in long-lasting ways
4 immune-boosting strategies that count right now
If you have knee pain, telehealth may help
How to address opposition in young children
New study investigates treatment-associated regrets in prostate cancer
Clot prevention with a mechanical heart valve
Ask the doctor
Image: © Hailshadow/Thinkstock
Q. I have a mechanical heart valve, so I'm taking warfarin. But the frequent blood tests and occasional dose changes are bothersome. When, if ever, will I be able to take one of the new blood thinners instead of warfarin? Off-label use of other drugs is not uncommon. Why isn't that an option in this case?
A. Your question is a good one, and it requires a two-part answer. When doctors prescribe drugs "off-label," that means they believe the drug will help you, even if it has not been FDA-approved specifically for your condition. Sometimes, subsequent research provides strong evidence to support a specific off-label use, which may lead to the drug's FDA approval for that condition. But sometimes, research shows the exact opposite: a medication that doctors assumed would be beneficial is, in fact, not helpful — and sometimes even harmful.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!