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Data sheets: what are ‘indications’?


On many data sheets the section headed ‘Uses’, contains the word ‘indication’ or the phrase ‘. . . is indicated in. . . ’. This term is ambiguous. When doctors speak of an indication, they usually mean that the drug referred to should be used for that purpose for medical reasons. When manufacturers list indications they nearly always mean that the drug can be used for that purpose, and imply that they hope it will be so used - even though other drugs may be more suitable for some of the purposes listed. As a result the manufacturer’s indications for a product tend to be far wider than the prescriber’s. To avoid this confusion over interpretation we suggest that the word ‘indication’ and phrases such as ‘is indicated’ should not be used in data sheets. Forms such as ‘ . . . is effective in . . . ’ or ‘ . . . can be used to treat . . . ’ should be used instead.

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