Robertson Article on the First Amendment and Advertising “Off-Label” Drugs

Christopher T. Robertson of Arizona and Harvard's Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics has written A Trojan Horse? How Expansion of the First Amendment Threatens Much More than the Regulation of Off-Label Drugs, forthcoming in the Ohio State Law Journal.  Here is the abstract:

Scholars, advocates, and courts have begun to recognize a First Amendment right for drugmakers to promote their products “off-label”, without proving safety and efficacy of new intended uses. Yet, so far, this debate has occurred in a vacuum of peculiar cases, where convoluted commercial speech doctrine underdetermines the outcome. Review of the seven arguments deployed in the off-label domain finds that they cannot be so limited. Instead, if they were valid, they would undermine the FDA’s entire premarket approval regime, reopening the door to a snake oil market where hype replaces science. Even more, if valid, this First Amendment logic would undermine a wide range of statutory regimes that have similar intent-based structures and rely on speech as evidence of intent. Ultimately, with relevance to First Amendment theory, this article reveals a broad and longstanding coherence in the law.

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