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Coalition to Sponsor Medical Marketing Pitch Webinar

April 6, 2015 – The Coalition for Healthcare Communication is sponsoring a Webinar May 6 that will highlight both basic ... read more

2014 DTC Ad Spending on the Rise

March 25, 2015 – The amount of money that drug companies spent on direct-to-consumer advertising rose from $3.8 billion in ... read more

What Does OPDP’s Enforcement Lull Mean?

March 12, 2015 – The FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) has issued fewer enforcement letters in recent years, ... read more

Who Says You Can’t Fight City Hall?

Commentary from Jack Angel, Coalition for Healthcare Communication Education Foundation Executive Director March 9, 2015 – I am not sure ... read more

DAA Expands Ad Privacy Controls to Mobile Marketplace

Feb. 26, 2015 – To “bolster both consumer trust and marketplace growth,” the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) yesterday launched two ... read more

Leveraging Technology and Other Highlights from DIA Marketing Meeting

Feb. 23, 2015 – Dale Cooke, owner of PhillyCooke Consulting, who spoke Feb. 18 at the Drug Information Association’s Marketing ... read more

FDA Budget Increase Relies on Higher User Fees

Feb. 16, 2015 – Although President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016 includes increases for both the FDA and ... read more

Revised Guidance on Use of Brief Summary in Print DTC Ads: Full PI Is Not Needed or “Recommended”

Feb. 9, 2015 – In a revised draft guidance document released Feb. 6, the FDA is updating a 2004 version ... read more

FDA Commissioner Hamburg to Leave FDA

Feb. 5, 2015 – After serving the FDA for six years, Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret Hamburg, M.D., will ... read more

21st Century Cures Discussion Draft Includes Textbook/Reprint Language, Communication Fixes

Jan. 29, 2015 – A 393-page discussion draft of legislation designed to accelerate the 21st Century Cures initiative – released ... read more

Transparency Proponents Slam Company-Provider Communication

Jan. 26, 2015 – Although biomedical companies can legally communicate and share information with physicians under the Physician Payments Sunshine ... read more

FDA Moves Forward with Major Statement Study, Responds to Coalition’s Comments

Jan. 14, 2015 – The FDA is taking the next step toward examining whether shorter, simpler risk disclosures in direct-to-consumer ... read more

Coalition: Issues to Watch in 2015

Jan. 13, 2015 — As 2015 gets fully underway, there are several issues that healthcare marketers should be following, according ... read more

Kamp to WSJ’s Pharmalot: CMS Move on CME “One of Biggest Flip Flops” Ever

Dec. 18, 2014 – This week’s release by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of subregulatory guidance on ... read more

MM&M Tax Reform Prognosis: Stay Tuned

Dec. 4, 2014 — The looming threat of eliminating the marketing tax deduction as part of overall tax reform may ... 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.”