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Free Speech in Medicine

Putting patients first and protecting the right to convey truthful information about legal medicines

Defending Freedom of Speech in Medicine

We trust doctors to treat our illnesses and help save our lives. But government harms their ability to do their jobs by restricting freedom of speech.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for approving medications. But often a medicine approved for one purpose is also effective for treating other ailments. That’s called an “off-label” use, and it’s perfectly legal for doctors to prescribe medicines this way. Medicare will even pay for it. But the FDA forbids drug manufacturers from sharing truthful information about those off-label uses with doctors. And when physicians aren’t fully informed about the range of available treatments, patients suffer.

The Goldwater Institute aims to put patients first through its Free Speech in Medicine Act, which protects the right to convey this truthful information about legal medicines. In 2017, Arizona became the first state to adopt our model legislation, thus ensuring that doctors can be fully informed about the latest treatments.

To learn more about the issue, read the Goldwater Institute report, “Restoring Free Speech in Medicine: How state lawmakers can overcome FDA regulations that keep doctors and payers in the dark”

POLICY REPORT: Restoring Free Speech in Medicine


Better-informed physicians and payers, such as health insurance carriers, other third-party payers, and plan sponsors, can help patients gain access to a wider array of potentially effective treatment options. But federal regulations restrict physician and payer access to the most current medical information.

Read the Goldwater Institute report, Restoring Free Speech in Medicine to learn more about the problem and Goldwater’s solution.


INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: Gagged: Feds Use Criminal Charges, Threats to Silence Drugmakers


Howard Root’s company specialized in making medical devices to treat patients with vascular disease. But as a new Goldwater Institute investigative report shows, overzealous federal prosecutors and regulators at the FDA nearly killed Root’s company and destroyed his life’s work in a constitutionally suspect attempt to cling to their own regulatory power.

Read about it in Gagged: Feds Use Criminal Charges, Threats to Silence Drugmakers.


Video Event: Overturning the FDA’s Gag Rule

Policy Report: Why is the FDA Restricting Free Speech in Medicine?

Under federal law, pharmaceutical companies can be charged with a crime simply for telling a doctor about a legal, alternative use for an approved treatment.

So-called off-label treatment—treatments used for conditions, patients, or dosages other than what the FDA approved that medicine to treat—is legal. But the federal government routinely censors pharmaceutical companies—which know the most about their drugs—from sharing information about legal off-label uses of their products. This information could help improve—and even save—people’s lives.

Read more about how the federal government’s censorship hurts patients and violates the constitutional right to free speech in a paper by Goldwater Institute executive vice president Christina Sandefur, published with the Federalist Society:

The FDA’s Approach to Off-Label Communications: Restricting Free Speech in Medicine?

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