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Food Drug Law J. 2014;69(2):161-236, i.

Origins of the prohibition against off-label promotion.


The statute and regulations administered by the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") do not explicitly prohibit the promotion of drugs and medical devices for unapproved uses, yet the government has collected billions of dollars in penalties for such "off-label" promotion. The statutory interpretations and regulatory provisions relied on by the government to take enforcement action against off-label promotion are the incidental by-products of initiatives undertaken by FDA through administrative action and litigation early in its implementation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The actions were designed to obtain FDA authority over therapeutic claims made in advertising, even though Congress had assigned authority over advertising to the Federal Trade Commission, and to establish a prescription-only drug system, even though FDA lacked statutory authority for such a system. The principal purpose of both efforts was to prevent inappropriate self-medication. This article describes the history of those strategies, including expansion of the definition of the term "labeling" to encompass matter that was initially regarded as advertising; creation of the rule that the labeling of drugs must have adequate directions for all "intended" uses; and construction of the prescription-only drug system in a manner that allowed FDA to use the statutory requirement for labeling to have "adequate directions for use" to prohibit the off-label promotion of prescription drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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