An Off-Label Vortex

  • by: Peter Pitts |
  • 02/29/2016
The Duke-Margolis Center working paper of off-label communications continues to provide forward motion on this urgent and feisty public health issue.

As BioCentury reports, PhRMA EVP and General Counsel Mit Spears said that while the Duke-Margolis Center paper does a good job of making the public health case for improving off-label communications policies, it “dances around” the single most important issue: how FDA defines the “truthful and non-misleading” standard the courts have set for corporate free speech.

“I don’t think you can resolve the issue without resolving the question of what constitutes truthful and non-misleading information,” Spears said. “That’s up to FDA or the courts to decide, and we think it is much better if it is FDA.”

He told BioCentury there is a danger that courts could back FDA into a corner, mandating communications policies that comply with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but that don’t take all of the nuances of public health into consideration.

Spears and PhRMA did not participate in the Duke-Margolis Center working group.

Speaking as a member of the Duke-Margolis working group, I could not agree more. As the BioCentury article reports, Speaking at the Duke-Margolis Center meeting, Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, also warned that the courts or Congress could take the off-label policy debate in directions that could be bad for public health. “Unless FDA steps up to the plate to lead this conversation, but also looks to outside advisors to help it formulate its viewpoints, we are all going to be sucked into a very unpleasant vortex,” he said.

The complete BioCentury article, “Off-Label Options,” can be found here.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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