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Off-label administration of drugs to healthy military personnel. Dubious ethics of preventive measures
  1. D O E Gebhardt
  1. Correspondence to:
 D O E Gebhardt

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Although there are exceptions, the principle of primum nil nocere remains the cornerstone of the practice of medicine. In the well known handbook, Goodman and Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics1 a case is presented which raises doubts about the permissibility of off-label administration of certain drugs to healthy troops as a preventive measure. The following citation from this handbook gives a clear description of the problem:

Prophylaxis in cholinesterase inhibitor poisoning. Studies in experimental animals have shown that pretreatment with pyridostigmine reduces the incapacitation and mortality associated with “nerve agent” poisoning, particularly for agents, such as soman, that …

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