Pharmaceutical sales reps, and by extension the companies they work for, are protected by their right to free speech even when on the job, according to a 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. “The majority calls into question the very foundations of our century-old system of drug regulation” said Judge Debra Ann Livingston in her dissent, a system “developed to protect consumers from misleading and unsubstantiated claims about drugs’ safety and efficacy…”
I’m confused. Are they saying that illegally promoting the drugs for unapproved uses is free speech? And since when has it been O.K. for 3 people to decide important matters? That’s damn near a dictatorship. How hard could it be for mega billion dollar companies to corrupt just a few people?
The ruling was worded as free speech for the “legal off label marketing of FDA-approved drugs”.
I think that this is huge. It encourages broad and irresponsible promotion of destructive, disabling yet profitable drugs. Pharma has everybody in their pocket over in Washington (not to mention, big media, as well).
Forewarned is forearmed I suppose, but who is going to fight the fraud beyond Whitaker? Can’t we scare up a few more journalists with some integrity and an eye for an untold story?
The legal system is not longer the friend of the American people. Who would have thought that the amendment protecting free speech would be as misused as it is today?
Thank you for posting this. It’s a really important discussion but very complicated. You almost need a law degree just to get what the ruling is and I have no idea how we could reverse this action. Maybe with a class action suit from people who have been harmed by off label use?
It sounds like we need a change in the law that makes such prosecutions viable. It’s related to the “corporations as persons” concept that we saw in the Citizens United ruling allowing unrestricted funding of political campaigns. We need a constitutional amendment clarifying that corporations do not enjoy the same constitutional free speech protections as individuals. A Corporation is NOT a person!
This is VERY scary!