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Off-label drug marketing is ruled free speech

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A decision by the federal appeals court could change the marketing of prescription drugs.

This week the federal appeals court ruled that off-label drug marketing is free speech.

Right now, once the FDA approves a drug physicians are free to prescribe that drug as they wish. But, the drug makers are not allowed to market the drug for those uses that are not indicated by the FDA. This weeks ruling allows drug makers to openly discuss those other uses.

Local pharmacists say they are for off-label use, but after proper research.

"I believe there is a very good role for the unlabeled use of medications prescribed by physicians. That's a physician individual decision, and it's best made on sound data. I would prefer that data not come from an industry paid representative, but would rather come from the peer reviewed medical literature," Cynthia Raehl, Pharm.D., Texas Tech University School of Pharmacy says.

Raehl says an example of this situation is with aspirin and heart attacks. Aspirin was not promoted for heart attacks until many years after it's use for them.

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