Nolo contendere

  • by: |
  • 01/23/2013

FDA said in a statement that the government decided not to seek further review of a December decision that found that the federal government could not prosecute a sales representative for speech promoting the legal, off-label use of an FDA-approved drug. According to the statement, the agency does not believe the 2-1 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in United States v. Caronia "will significantly affect the agency's enforcement of the drug misbranding provisions" of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). FDA added that the decision "does not strike down any provision [of FDCA] or its implementing regulations, nor does it find a conflict between the act's misbranding provisions and the First Amendment or call into question the validity of the act's drug approval framework"

Surprised?  Don’t be. Whenever the FDA goes to court on First Amendment issues it either loses or gets a stern rebuke for its unpredictable, ambiguous and sometimes capricious application of off-label speech constraints.

Regardless of the FDA’s decision, Caronia will impact the way FDA views off-label promotion within the context of the free-and-fair dissemination of scientific data. I believe a new (and hopefully more enlightened) FDA view based on intent will arise. Alas, that will not assuage any of the ambiguity that is currently driving FDA (OPDP) communications oversight. That being said, any revisitation and discussion is for the better.

Some believe that, if Caronia stands, pharmaceutical companies will no longer feel obligated to seek FDA approval for new indications, since they can openly "promote" them without fear of prosecution. This is a flawed argument. Indications of the on-label variety have many benefits—not the least of which is reimbursement. But such negative unintended consequences are important to discuss and consider. IMHO, any company that chose this route would be acting in a highly irresponsible manner, putting promotion before the public health.

“See you in court?” Not likely.


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.

Blog Roll

Alliance for Patient Access Alternative Health Practice
Better Health
Biotech Blog
CA Medicine man
Cafe Pharma
Campaign for Modern Medicines
Carlat Psychiatry Blog
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look
Conservative's Forum
Club For Growth
Diabetes Mine
Disruptive Women
Doctors For Patient Care
Dr. Gov
Drug Channels
DTC Perspectives
Envisioning 2.0
FDA Law Blog
Fierce Pharma
Fresh Air Fund
Furious Seasons
Gel Health News
Hands Off My Health
Health Business Blog
Health Care BS
Health Care for All
Healthy Skepticism
Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
Hugh Hewitt
In the Pipeline
In Vivo
Internet Drug News
Jaz'd Healthcare
Jaz'd Pharmaceutical Industry
Jim Edwards' NRx
Kaus Files
Laffer Health Care Report
Little Green Footballs
Med Buzz
Media Research Center
More than Medicine
National Review
Neuroethics & Law
Nurses For Reform
Nurses For Reform Blog
Opinion Journal
Orange Book
Peter Rost
Pharm Aid
Pharma Blog Review
Pharma Blogsphere
Pharma Marketing Blog
Pharmacology Corner
Pharmaceutical Business Review
Piper Report
Prescription for a Cure
Public Plan Facts
Real Clear Politics
Shark Report
Shearlings Got Plowed
Taking Back America
Terra Sigillata
The Cycle
The Catalyst
The Lonely Conservative
Town Hall
Washington Monthly
World of DTC Marketing
WSJ Health Blog