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FDA Plans to Study Effect of DTC Ads on Adolescents

July 24, 2014 – A better understanding of how adolescents weigh risks and benefits in direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads is needed ... read more

Bruce Grant Urges Pharma Communicators to Recognize Their Role in Health Advances

July 23, 2014 – Although the pharmaceuticals industry has come under fire in recent years, it is important to remember ... read more

FDA Social Media Draft Guidances Answer Some Questions, Raise Others

July 21, 2014 – Although the FDA has attempted to provide some clarity on its position regarding certain social media ... read more

Kamp to Washington Post: Companies Should Be Able to Speak Truthfully About Drugs

July 14, 2014 – Drug companies should be allowed to share truthful information about the off-label uses of their drugs, ... read more

CMS Proposes Eliminating CME Sunshine Act Exemption

July 7, 2014 – About 240 pages into the 600-page physician fee schedule proposed rule, which is due to be ... read more

FDA Device Document Revises Mobile Medical Apps Guidance

July 1, 2014 – The FDA’s recently issued draft guidance on medical device data systems (MDDS) not only lessens the ... read more

New FDA Social Media Guidances Address Space-limited Media, Correcting Online Misinformation

June 23, 2014 – Although the two social media draft guidance documents the FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) ... read more

AMA House of Delegates: Revise Sunshine Act Rules on Textbook/Reprints and TOV Amount

June 12, 2014 – The American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) House of Delegates is attempting to bring some common sense to ... read more

As Sunshine Act Phase One Implemenation Ends, Compliance Concerns Grow

June 9, 2014 – In a recent Pharmalot blog post on The Wall Street Journal site, Ed Silverman writes that ... read more

House Committee Seeks Patient Input on Availability of Treatments

June 3, 2014 – The House Energy and Commerce Committee is seeking public comments from patients, providers and other stakeholders ... read more

FDA To Study Viewers’ Responses to DTC Ad Risk Information

May 29, 2014 – The FDA announced May 28 in the Federal Register that it plans to conduct an eye ... read more

FTC Calls for Data Broker Legislation To Protect Consumers

May 29, 2014 – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report May 27 in which it asks Congress to ... read more

OPDP Enforcement Letters Address Omission of Risk Information

May 23, 2014 – The FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) has issued just three Untitled Letters to date ... read more

New Yorker Article Weighs Sales Rep Free Speech Arguments in Off-label Context

May 22, 2014 – Both sides of the argument over whether sales representatives’ speech about off-label drug uses are protected ... read more

WLF: FDA’s Revised Reprint Draft Guidance Violates Injunction and First Amendment

May 19, 2014 – In May 15 comments to the FDA regarding its draft guidance on reprint practices for articles ... read more

FTC Cites Privacy Concerns Related to Mobile Health Apps

May 9, 2014 – Mobile health and fitness applications are on the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy-protection radar following a study ... read more

CHC Comment to FDA: Less Is More in DTC TV Ads

May 2, 2014 – The Coalition for Healthcare Communication believes that “shorter, simpler disclosures are most likely to lead to ... read more

FDA Willing to “Re-examine” Off-label Policies in Light of First Amendment Rulings

April 28, 2014 – The FDA is not taking lightly industry’s concerns that its existing off-label policies are not in ... read more

CHC Press Release: Comment on Social Media Draft Guidance

April 9, 2014 — The Coalition for Healthcare Communication issued the following press release today regarding the CHC Social Media ... read more

Some States Impose Reporting Requirements That Add to Sunshine Burden

April 7, 2014 – Although the Physician Payment Sunshine Act preempts state laws that require reporting of similar information required ... read more

Kamp to WSJ: FDA Could Do a Better Job of Defending Off-label Limits

March 31, 2014 – The FDA’s recent draft guidance on disseminating reprints, textbooks and clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) discussing off-label ... read more

OPDP Issues First Untitled Letter for Branded Facebook Page

March 14, 2014 – The FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) on Feb. 24 issued its first enforcement letter ... read more

Cuts in Speaker Payments Should Be Placed in Proper Context

March 10, 2014 – The need for industry to educate the public on why company interaction with physicians is both ... read more

FDA Issues Updated Draft Guidance on Distributing Scientific and Medical Info on Unapproved New Uses

March 3, 2014 – The FDA announced today the availability of a new draft guidance (2014-04560) on distributing scientific and ... read more

New Tax Reform Legislation Includes Limit on Ad Tax Deductions

Feb. 27, 2014 – As expected, tax reform legislation introduced yesterday by Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp ... read more

FDA Is Considering Shorter List of Risks in DTC TV Ad Major Statement

Feb. 17, 2014 – In recognition that the stream of risks currently disclosed on direct-to-consumer (DTC) television ads may be ... read more

OPDP Enforcement Letters Target Common Issues in Last Half of 2013

Feb. 4, 2014 — Many of the 14 enforcement letters issued by the FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) ... read more

Caronia Decision One Year Later: Off-label Change May Be Slow, But It’s Brewing

Jan. 27, 2014 – Although FDA officials have treated the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decision in ... read more

Coalition Seeks Input on FDA Online Promotion Guidance

Jan. 23, 2014 – The Coalition for Healthcare Communication would like to receive feedback from its members regarding the FDA ... read more

FDA Draft Guidance Addresses Postmarket Submission of Online Promotional Material

Jan. 14, 2014 – The determining factor regarding whether a firm submits online prescription drug promotional material to the agency ... read more

Kamp on Off-label Discussion at the CMS/FDA Summit

Jan. 3, 2014 – From Coalition for Healthcare Communication Executive Director John Kamp: Several weeks ago I was privileged to ... read more

Coalition Calls on Senators to Reject Tax on Advertising

Dec. 16, 2013 – Today the Coalition for Healthcare Communication sent a letter to U.S. Senators and Members of the ... read more

House Members Speak Out Against Inclusion of Textbooks, Reprints in Sunshine Act Reporting

Nov. 26, 2013 – On Nov. 22, 23 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the ... read more

OPDP Sends Warning Letter Based on Statements Made on Fast Money TV Show

Nov. 11, 2013 – The FDA Office of Prescription Drug Promotion’s (OPDP’s) recent enforcement actions – four Untitled Letters and ... read more

Physician Organizations, Medical Societies Implore HHS to Reverse Policy on Reprints and Textbooks

Oct. 28, 2013 – On Monday, 33 physician organizations and 41 national and state medical societies sent a letter to ... read more

MIWG Asks FDA to Clarify Position Regarding Manufacturer Dissemination of New Use Information

Sept. 16, 2013 – The Medical Information Working Group (MIWG), a coalition of medical product manufacturers seeking to improve the ... read more

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WLF to CMS: Deem Medical Textbooks Educational Materials or Face Potential First Amendment Challenge

May 16, 2013 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is likely “to find itself the target of a First Amendment lawsuit by affected parties” if it does not consider medical textbooks to be “educational materials that directly benefit patients” which are excluded from a reporting requirement under the final rules implementing the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, according to a May 15 letter to CMS from the Washington Legal Foundation (WLF).

In its letter (CMS Textbook Policy), WLF asks CMS  to delay application of reporting requirements to medical textbooks until it has had an opportunity to examine the First Amendment implications of including these items as “transfers of value” from manufacturers to doctors.

Coalition for Healthcare Communication (CHC) Executive Director John Kamp remarked that the WLF letter “is strong, balanced, nuanced and likely to be effective. Indeed, if WLF convinces CMS to reverse itself on textbooks, the same reasoning applies to journal supplements, reprints and Website publications that are distributed with company support.”

Specifically, WLF contends the following in its letter:

  • The distribution of medical textbooks is speech protected by the First Amendment;
  • Although CMS is not banning speech, it is substantially burdening speech (and such burdens are subject to First Amendment constraints);
  • The Sunshine final rule’s disclosure requirement imposes a substantial burden on the right to speak by distributing medical textbooks;
  • Application of the Sunshine Act to medical textbooks does not serve any substantial government interests; and
  • CMS can avoid First Amendment difficulties by construing the Act as inapplicable to medical textbooks.

“Applying the reporting requirements to medical textbooks would constitute a serious infringement on the First Amendment rights of pharmaceutical companies to disseminate medical texts and the First Amendment rights of doctors to receive such information,” WLF Chief Counsel Richard A. Samp wrote in the letter to CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that disclosure requirements of this sort [imposed by the final rule] are subject to ‘exacting scrutiny’ and can pass muster under the First Amendment only if shown to serve important government interests that outweigh the burdens they impose on speakers,” the letter states.

The WLF also states that the burden of reporting and doctors’ concerns about being included on a list of those receiving payments from drug companies will cause doctors to decline offers of medical textbooks and cause companies to cease disseminating them. Because medical textbooks communicate truthful information that helps doctors treat patients, the WLF asserts that they are fully protected by the First Amendment, as demonstrated by multiple U.S. Supreme Court decisions. “By all accounts, medical textbooks supplied by drug companies to doctors ‘directly benefit patients’ – doctors regularly use information gleaned from the textbooks in their treatment of patients,” according to the WLF.

As further evidence that medical textbooks constitute protected speech under the First Amendment, the WLF states that its 1998 lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) resulted in the FDA being subject to a permanent injunction limiting FDA authority to suppress manufacturer dissemination of medical textbooks discussing off-label uses of their FDA-approved products.

“There is little evidence that Congress intended to single out textbook dissemination and other expressive activities for special disapprobation, but the effect of the Act (as interpreted by CMS) is to burden this expressive activity to such an extent that much of the activity will cease,” the WLF letter states. Samp concludes the letter by stating that “in light of the grave constitutional issues raised by CMS’s rule, courts will not defer to CMS’s reading of the Act … even if they deem it a plausible reading,” and advises CMS to reconsider and allow these educational materials to be excluded from reporting requirements.

“Exempting these as educational items not only makes sense under the Sunshine Act, it makes great public policy sense,” CHC’s Kamp said. “Informing doctors about the latest science and practice guidelines drives improved patient care. Everyone can salute that result.”