First Amendment Scrutiny of FDA'S Fight Against Misbranding: Placing Labeling on the Spectrum of Speech
Weissman, Kenneth I.
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CitationFirst Amendment Scrutiny of FDA'S Fight Against Misbranding: Placing Labeling on the Spectrum of Speech (1995 Third Year Paper)
AbstractIn order to further the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) mission of "assur[ing] that the products it regulates are safe and truthfully labeled," the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) gives FDA the power to enforce prohibitions on labeling that causes a food, drug, cosmetic, or medical device to be misbranded. The FD&C Act defines labeling as "all labels and other written, printed, or graphic matter (1) upon any article or any of its containers or wrappers, or (2) accompanying such article." Because of the expansive nature of this definition, independently written pamphlets, newspapers, and books that accompany products covered by the FD&C Act constitute labeling in certain circumstances. This exacerbates the tension between the First Amendment's free speech guarantee and FDA's mandate, and raises the question of how courts should scrutinize FDA's ability to seize or enjoin the sale of misleading labeling. The importance of both the Free Speech Clause and the protection of consumers makes this a difficult issue to resolve, and as of yet, "no case has squarely confronted the issue."
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