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Death by Pharma

twig's picture

Welcome to our bold new world, where pharmaceutical companies could soon be pushing drugs intended for one purpose for ... whatever, because free speech!!!

Off-label drug marketing (recommending prescription drugs for conditions that haven't been approved by the FDA) just got a green light from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The final decision will most likely be up to our corporate-loving Supreme Court, so we have a pretty good idea how this will end. Just relax and have another Valium! By the way, did you know that in addition to helping calm you, Valium can protect against heart attacks, prevent wrinkles, and help you lose weight? Miracle drug, right?

"This risks taking us back to an era when people could promote snake oil without restrictions – a situation I would hate to see," said Richard Deyo, MD, a professor of family medicine at Oregon Health and Science University.

[snip]

Tamara Piety, an expert on commercial speech and the First Amendment and a professor of law at the University of Tulsa, said that if the decision is upheld by the Supreme Court it could open the doors to off-label television advertising of drugs. Piety predicted that a majority of the Supreme Court Justices would be sympathetic to the ruling.

She [said the pharmaceutical industry has been trying for years to overturn the off-label marketing prohibition.

"It looks like they finally succeeded," she said.

Steven Nissen, MD, a cardiologist with the Cleveland Clinic, said the decision was short-sighted and could result in patients being exposed to unnecessary risks.

"Off-label promotion is not about free speech, it is the medical equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded auditorium." he said.

Andrew Kolodny, MD, a New York psychiatrist who has been trying to reform the use of narcotic painkillers in the U.S., said the decision was terrible for public health.

"A large portion of Americans already are taking drugs with serious risks that outweigh the benefits," he said.

"This is going to get much worse," Kolodny said. "It's a safe bet that health outcomes will decline from medication side effects, while spending on prescription drugs will continue to rise."

In other words, their plan to get rid of as many of us as possible while extracting every available nickel is proceeding nicely.