Perhaps I live day to day as an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand but I was completely unaware that pharmaceutical companies were suing for their right to market drugs for unapproved “off label” uses using the First Amendment “free speech” argument until this week when I ran across an interesting article from the New York Times: Drugs, Greed, and a Dead Boy.
Off label uses are commonly discussed among physicians. I have written prescriptions for countless drugs over the years that were not necessarily for FDA approved purposes. Drug reps are not allowed to discuss off label uses when they are calling on physicians (not that it really stops them….). It is appropriate for physicians to have control of this sort of discussion, though, rather than the pharmaceutical companies themselves.
Interestingly, those companies have already won two court battles.
At the same time, the American Medical Association called for a ban on direct to consumer pharmaceutical advertising. Bravo. You know how much the industry paid for advertising the past two years to try to get Americans to buy their drugs? $4.5 BILLION, folks. Who pays for that? You do, with higher drug and insurance prices. But will the AMA really be able to do anything about it? I wonder how many millions of dollars will be spent on lobbying. You know who pays for that? Physicians do.