It’s a federal appeals court decision that is either a victory for free speech or a significant threat to public health. While doctors can prescribe an approved drug for any purpose, FDA regulations have long held that companies may only market a drug for its approved use. This decision could open the door to television advertising for off-label uses of drugs. Caveat emptor!

A decision by a federal appeals court this week could have a dramatic impact on the marketing of prescription drugs in America, potentially affecting patient care and everything from TV advertising to future government prosecutions which, in the past, had yielded billions of dollars in settlements, doctors and attorneys said Tuesday.

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Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED's State of Health blog. Since 2011, she's been writing stories and editing them for the site. Before taking up blogging, she toiled for many years producing health stories for television, including Dateline NBC and San Francisco's CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV. She also wrote up a handy guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis

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