Constitutionally Protected Fee Speech

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  • 08/17/2005

Nope, not a typo. Fee Speech. Like in speech you get paid for. Specifically the kind of speech doctors use when they get paid to talk with the investment community. Some (now including the venerable NY Times) believe that doctors participating in clinical trials shouldn’t talk to investors for fear that they will share confidential information. Should clinical investigators share confidential information — most certainly not — but that’s a lot different than saying they shouldn’t be allowed to speak with Wall Street types. It’s a slippery slope, friends. First ne parlez pas avec investors and then, who else? How about reporters? How about patients? How about each other? Are we really willing to say adieu to the free exchange of (appropriate) scientific information? It’s odd to me (but, alas, not surprising) that the same people who want full disclosure of clinical trial data want to muzzle trial clinicians. This isn’t to say that loose lips shouldn’t be slapped shut, they should —but the way to deal with blabbermouth docs is to aggressively put an end to such behavior through legal and professional remedies, not by selectively applying the First Amendment.


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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