Acute gastroenteritis (AG) represents both the main cause of acute vomiting in children under 3 years old and a major cause of access to the emergency department. Even if several drugs may be able to reduce the emesis, the pharmacological treatment of vomiting in children remains a controversial issue, and several drugs are prescribed outside their authorized drug label with respect dosage, age, indication, or route of administration and are named as off-label. The aim of present study was to assess the off-label use of antiemetic drugs in patients less than 18 years with vomiting related to AG. This study was carried out in eight pediatric emergency departments in Italy. The following data were obtained crossing the pharmacy distribution records with emergency departments' patient data: sex and age of the patients and detailed information for each drug used (indication, dose, frequency, and route of administration). We recorded that antiemetic drugs were prescribed in every year, particularly in children up to 2 years old, and compared with both literature data and data sheet; 30 % of the administered antiemetics were used off-label. In particular, domperidone was the only antiemetic used labeled for AG treatment in pediatric patients, while metoclopramide and ondansetron have been off-label for both age and indications (i.e., AG treatment). Conclusions: In conclusion, we documented an off-label use of antiemetics in children, and this could represents a problem of safety for the patient and a legal risk for the prescribing physician if patients have an unwanted or bad outcome from treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health