Off-Label Chinsanity

  • by: |
  • 12/04/2012

Fasten your seatbelts.

Court: off-label promotion protected

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said in a 2-1 ruling in United States v. Caronia on Monday that the "government cannot prosecute pharmaceutical manufacturers and their representatives under the [Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA)] for speech promoting the lawful, off-label use of an FDA-approved drug." In the ruling, Judge Denny Chin wrote that so long as the off-label use of the FDA-approved drug is legal, the government's interpretation of FDCA's misbranding provisions to prohibit and criminalize the promotion of off-label use "unconstitutionally restrict[s] speech." FDCA prohibits misbranding, but does not expressly prohibit the promotion or marketing of drugs for off-label use. Chin noted that off-label promotion that is false or misleading is not protected by the First Amendment. In a dissenting opinion,

Judge Debra Ann Livingston said the ruling "calls into question the very foundations of our century-old system of drug regulation," adding that if drug companies "were allowed to promote FDA-approved drugs for nonapproved uses, they would have little incentive to seek FDA approval for those uses."

The case concerns Alfred Caronia, a former specialty sales consultant at Orphan Medical, which was acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc. He was convicted in 2008 of conspiracy to introduce a misbranded drug into interstate commerce based on audio recordings in which he promoted the off-label use of narcolepsy drug Xyrem sodium oxybate. Caronia, who was sentenced to one-year probation and 100 hours of community service, appealed, arguing that his conviction was based solely on his speech and therefore violated his First Amendment rights.

The appeals court vacated and remanded to the lower court the decision convicting Caronia.


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