A federal appeals court in Boston has upheld the right of a hospital employee to speak to the media, in a case likely to ripple across the private sector and make it harder for employers to issue blanket gag orders.
The U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit, ordered a Maine hospital last month to repudiate a rule that barred employees from answering inquiries from the media or providing information without the “direct involvement” of the Community Relations Department. It also ordered the hospital to reinstate an employee who was fired after writing a letter to the local newspaper that described staff turnover and morale problems. Continue reading
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s John Fauber explains what a federal appeals court ruling this week might mean for patient care, television advertising and many other issues.
The case of United States vs. Alfred Caronia, a pharmaceutical company representative, “involved the right of commercial free speech, applying it to the complicated world of pharmaceutical industry promotion of prescription drugs.”
Caronia was prosecuted for making off-label promotional statements about Xyrem, a drug approved in 2002 to treat narcolepsy patients. He contended his statements were protected by the First Amendment, saying that the government couldn’t “prohibit or criminalize a drug company’s truthful, non-misleading off-label promotion to doctors.”
Fauber notes that “The appeals court essentially agreed, noting that Caronia never conspired to put false or deficient labeling on the drug.”
In his article, Fauber – no stranger to covering conflicts of interest in the medical industry – outlines the surprisingly far-reaching potential effect of the ruling – called a “watershed moment” by one source.
A federal judge’s ruling has, at least temporarily, blocked efforts to expand stem cell research, based on a decision that says “regulations designed to expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research violated a law [the Dickey Wicker Amendment] prohibiting destruction of embryos for research purposes.”
When stem cells like these human embryonic stem cells divide, each new cell has the potential to remain a stem cell or become a cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell or a red blood cell. Photo: National Institutes of Health
It’s yet to be determined what the implications of this ruling [PDF] will be if it stands, but it could affect millions of dollars of federally-funded research. AHCJ has some background and links to help reporters who might be looking at how this will affect local researchers.