Side effect

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In medicine, a side effect is an effect, whether therapeutic or adverse, that is secondary to the one intended; although the term is predominantly employed to describe adverse effects, it can also apply to beneficial, but unintended, consequences of the use of a drug.

Occasionally, drugs are prescribed or procedures performed specifically for their side effects; in that case, said side effect ceases to be a side effect, and is now an intended effect. For instance, X-rays were historically (and are currently) used as an imaging technique; the discovery of their oncolytic capability led to their employ in radiotherapy (ablation of malignant tumours).

Use of drugs for unapproved indications—that is, for their side effects—is termed off-label use. For instance, opioids, which are approved as palliative treatment for pain, may also be used for their euphoriant properties as anxiolytics or antidepressants, whether medically or recreationally.

Off-label use of drugs, although similar in meaning to side effects, is not to be confused with them; side effects describe the mechanism of action that a drug used off-label takes, whereas off-label use implies the desired consequences of using a drug for its side-effects.

Off-label use of drugs is legal; the manner in which prescription medication is to be used is solely at the discretion of the prescriber. However, the marketing of drugs towards unapproved indications is illegal; in fact, several pharmaceutical development firms have been fined for unapproved promotion of their products.

Examples of therapeutic side-effects

See also

References

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  6. Shen WW, Mahadevan J, Hofstatter L, Sata LS (July 1983). "Doxepin as a potent H2 and H2 antihistamine for epigastric distress". Am J Psychiatry. 140 (7): 957–8. PMID 6859336.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. OFF-LABEL USE OF GABAPENTIN. Idaho Drug Utilization Review. Educational Leaflet
  8. Pregnancy. drugs.nmihi.com
  9. Medscape: Medscape Access. Emedicine.com. Retrieved on 2011-08-17.

External links

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