November 3rd, 2011

The Free Speech Pill

Wall Street Journal

Drug makers are mounting a legal campaign to overturn longstanding U.S. regulations prohibiting them from pitching medicines for uses not listed on the bottle.

Doctors routinely prescribe such therapies as a hemophilia drug for brain hemorrhage, and cancer drugs for a wider array of tumors, in situations where federally approved medicines aren’t believed as effective or simply don’t exist.

But drug companies can’t market those uses thanks to decades-old restrictions from the Food and Drug Administration. Federal prosecutors have secured settlements totaling billions of dollars from companies including Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca PLC and Eli Lilly & Co. for allegedly violating the rules.

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