Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pharmaceutical Fantasy Fails As Free Speech

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided the case of United States v. Harkonen on March 4, 2013.  The Court affirmed a jury conviction for wire fraud, triggered by publication of a press release allegedly announcing false clinical trial results for interferon gamma-1b ("Actimmune").  In this case, the Court appears to have poured cold water over the notion that the First Amendment right to free speech may authorize factually-false commercial speech, particularly in the realm of marketing pharmaceuticals.  Caveat vendor.