The Internet is buzzing about a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece in which ex-FDA deputy commissioner Scott Gottlieb (photo) championed the sort of off-label promotions that make regulators crazy. Gottlieb cited a couple of cases in which drug makers have paid multi-million dollar fines for pushing meds in non-FDA-approved directions. The whole off-label promotion ban is wrong, Gottlieb says, and it hurts patients who might benefit from off-label uses if their docs only knew.
Yet, as the WSJ Health Blog points out, off-label marketing isn't allowed for a reason. Some of it amounts to cherry-picking studies that support new uses for a drug. Marketers often ignore the trials that conclude otherwise. But has the FDA gone too far in policing the practice? Debate is likely to continue.