Reducing off-label prescribing in psychiatry

Ian B Hickie
Med J Aust 2014; 200 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/mja14.00050
Published online: 3 February 2014

Practitioners need to consider the evidence for pharmacological options before prescribing medications off label

There are few more controversial topics in mental health than what constitutes evidence-based prescribing. Medications not indicated for common conditions like anxiety or depression, or particular age groups such as the young or old, are often prescribed for these conditions or age groups. Consequently, strident calls for clamping down on such “off-label” prescribing are common. Three drivers are behind these public and professional concerns.

  • Ian B Hickie

  • Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

I am a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Principal Research Fellow and a National Mental Health Commissioner. I was a director of headspace, the national youth mental health foundation, until 2012. I have led community-based and pharmaceutical industry-supported education programs related to anxiety, depression and psychosis. Current investigator-initiated studies in depression and circadian systems at the Brain & Mind Research Institute are supported by Servier. I have received honoraria or travel support for participation in educational seminars related to depression, youth mental health or circadian rhythms research and clinical practice.


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