The unapproved use of approved drugs, also called off-label use, with children is quite common. This is because pediatric dosage guidelines are typically unavailable, since very few drugs have been specifically researched and tested with children.

When treating children, prescribers often adjust dosages approved for adults to accommodate a child’s weight. However, children are not just “smaller” adults. Adults and children process and respond to drugs differently in their absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion.

Children even respond differently during stages from infancy to adolescence. This poses potential safety concerns when prescribing drugs to pediatric patients. As an advanced practice nurse, you have to be aware of safety implications of the off-label use of drugs with this patient group.

Explain the circumstances under which children should be prescribed drugs for off-label use. Be specific and provide examples.
Describe strategies to make the off-label use and dosage of drugs safer for children from infancy to adolescence. Include descriptions and names of off-label drugs that require extra care and attention when used in pediatrics.

Required reading materials:

Rosenthal, L. D., & Burchum, J. R. (2018). Lehne’s pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice providers. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

Chapter 8, “Drug Therapy in Pediatric Patients” (pp. 65—67)
Corny, J., Lebel, D., Bailey, B., & Bussieres, J. (2015). Unlicensed and off-label drug use in children before and after pediatric governmental initiatives. The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 20(4), 316–328. Retrieved from

This article highlights pediatric governmental initiatives to prevent unlicensed and off-label drug use in children. Review these initiatives and guidelines and how they might impact your practice as an advanced practice nurse.

Panther, S. G., Knotts, A. M., Odom-Maryon, T., Daratha, K., Woo, T., & Klein, T. A. (2017). Off-label prescribing trends for ADHD medications in very young children. The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 22(6), 423–429. doi:10.5863/1551-6776-22.6.423