Federal court says free speech protection applies to Big Pharma drugs, but not nutritional supplements

Summer Tierney
NaturalNews.com

(NaturalNews) Even while manufacturers of nutritional supplements remain effectively gagged when it comes to promoting the truthful health benefits of their own products, a recent federal appeals court decision appears to give a free pass to pharmaceutical representatives peddling prescription drugs for “off-label” uses.

Throwing out the previous conviction of Orphan Medical Inc. (now part of JazzPharmaceuticals Plc.) sales representative Alfred Caronia, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York found that Caronia’s rights to free speech under the First Amendment had been violated. Caronia had been found guilty in 2008 by a Brooklyn court for improperly promoting the drug Xyrem (an FDA-approved treatment for narcolepsy and daytime sleepiness related to narcolepsy) for other “off-label” uses, including muscle disorders, chronic pain and fatigue. “Off-label” refers to the use of a drug as a treatment for conditions other than those specifically approved by the FDA.

Caronia’s actions were determined to be a violation of the federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, and he was sentenced to one year of probation plus 100 hours of community service. But Caronia appealed that decision, and the appeals court agreed with him, finding that drug companies and sales representatives should have the same rights as doctors do, in promoting FDA-approved drugs for off-label uses.

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