Child and adolescent mental health services in north-west England (n=21) participated in a prospective collection of information regarding all instances of new prescribing of medication over the 6–month period September 1999 to February 2000.
A total of 478 new prescriptions were issued to 411 individuals. Eight prescriptions (2%) were for an unlicensed drug and a further 188 (39%) were of licensed drugs but used in a manner outside of their product licence.
This level of unlicensed and outside-licence prescribing is similar to levels previously found in studies both within paediatric practice and in adult mental health practice. Anxiety about excessive beyond-licence prescribing by child mental health services is unlikely to be justified.
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