What is Pharmaceutical Law?
Pharmaceutical Laws relate to the creation, sale, distribution, and use of pharmaceutical drugs. These laws include intellectual property rights to protect drug manufacturers’ research, safety standards to protect the public from harmful side effects, restrictions on marketing drugs to the public, and rules regarding how drugs may be prescribed and distributed.
Pharmaceutical discoveries, and advances in biomedical research, have created a multi-billion dollar industry. With stakes so high, it is important for companies to be able to protect their investments. This is typically done through the use of patents. Patents can apply to the method of synthesizing a drug, the chemical makeup of a new molecule, or possibly even to certain genetic discoveries. There are many other potential uses for patents in the field of pharmaceutical law, as well.
Trademarks and copyrights also play a role in pharmaceutical law. After all, just as with any product, brand identification can be a key to success in marketing and brand loyalty.
Safety and Marketing
Another important area of pharmaceutical law is in product safety and marketing. Pharmaceuticals are among the most highly regulated products in the U.S., and must pass stringent testing by organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they are even allowed onto the market. However, these products could still be misused, even if approved for their intended purpose. As such, strict laws regarding how these drugs can be marketed both to individuals and to doctors prevent false and misleading claims. If, as has often been the case, later research discovers a product is not safe, other laws are in place to immediately compel the recall of the product from the marketplace and prevent its further sale.
Of course, many drugs are considered controlled substances in the U.S. As a result, very strict guidelines exist for which drugs may be sold without a prescription (i.e., over-the-counter) and which may only be given if approved of by a licensed medical practitioner. Other laws make it a crime to prescribe medications that are in quantities that are intended for distribution on the black market or that would be harmful to the patient. Still others criminalize the resale of prescription drugs.
For more information about pharmaceutical law, please visit the resources listed below. You can also find an attorney who can answer your questions or assist you with your pharmaceutical law issues by visiting our Law Firms page and searching for a lawyer in your area.
Pharmaceutical Law - US
- Cyber Pharmaceuticals
In today's fast growing world of e-commerce, prescription drugs have joined the ever-expanding list of products customers can conveniently order online and have delivered to their front doors. But unlike most other consumer items available for purchase online, pharmaceutical sales present a discrete mix of legal, social and medical issues.
- FDA Regulations Relating to Good Clinical Practice and Clinical Trials
Each time Congress enacts a law affecting products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA develops rules to implement the law. The FDA takes various steps to develop these rules, including publishing a variety of documents in the Federal Register announcing the FDA's interest in formulating, amending or repealing a rule, and offering the public the opportunity to comment on the agency's proposal.
- Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
The FDA's online reference edition of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act is based on the publication Compilation of Selected Acts Within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Energy and Commerce; Food, Drug, and Related Law, As Amended Through December 31, 2004, prepared for the use of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives, March 2005.
- Food and Drug Law Institute
The Food and Drug Law Institute, founded in 1949, is a non-profit organization that provides a marketplace for discussing food and drug law issues through conferences, publications and member interaction. The scope of FDLI includes food, drugs, animal drugs, biologics, cosmetics, diagnostics, dietary supplements, medical devices and tobacco. As a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, FDLI does not engage in advocacy activities.
- Hatch-Waxman Act
The Hatch-Waxman Amendments amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and created a statutory generic drug approval process with section 505(j). Section 505(j) established the abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) approval process, which permits generic versions of previously approved innovator drugs to be approved without submitting a full new drug application (NDA). An ANDA refers to the previously approved NDA (the “listed drug”) and relies on the Agency’s finding of safety and effectiveness for the listed drug product.
- IRS - Pharmaceutical Industry Overview of Significant Laws
This overview is designed to provide industry-related information to all Large Business and International (LB&I). This is the first step in the effort of LB&I to develop a greater level of expertise in the industry or industries to which you will be assigned. This overview is one of a series of industry specific overviews.
- Pharmaceutical Market Access Act
A bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the importation of prescription drugs, and for other purposes.
- Pharmacist Code of Ethics and Oath
Pharmacists are health professionals who assist individuals in making the best use of medications. This Code, prepared and supported by pharmacists, is intended to state publicly the principles that form the fundamental basis of the roles and responsibilities of pharmacists. These principles, based on moral obligations and virtues, are established to guide pharmacists in relationships with patients, health professionals, and society.
- Prescription Drug User Fee Act
For nearly 20 years, the mission of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act has been to advance public health, safeguard patient safety and give patients more timely access to new, life-saving medicines. The program was created in response to a perilous regulatory bottleneck that slowed patient access to the medicines.
- The Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP)
OPDP reviewers have responsibility for reviewing prescription drug advertising and promotional labeling to ensure that the information contained in these promotional materials is not false or misleading. Formerly Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC).
- United States Drug Enforcement Agency
The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets.
Organizations Related to Pharmaceutical Law
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)
Founded in 1900, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) is the national organization representing pharmacy education in the United States. The mission of the Association is to both represent and be an advocate for all segments of the academic community in the profession of pharmacy.
- American Pharmacists Association (APhA)
The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is the organization whose members are recognized in society as essential in all patient care settings for optimal medication use that improves health, wellness, and quality of life.
- American Pharmacists Association Foundation
The American Pharmacists Association Foundation is a not for profit 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Washington, DC and is affiliated with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the oldest and largest national professional society of pharmacists in the United States. The APhA Foundation looks to create a new medication use system where patients, pharmacists, physicians and other health care professionals collaborate to dramatically improve the cost effectiveness and quality of consumer health outcomes.
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.
- International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH)
The International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) is unique in bringing together the regulatory authorities and pharmaceutical industry of Europe, Japan and the US to discuss scientific and technical aspects of drug registration. Since its inception in 1990, ICH has evolved, through its ICH Global Cooperation Group, to respond to the increasingly global face of drug development, so that the benefits of international harmonisation for better global health can be realised worldwide.
- International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA)
The IFPMA was founded in 1968 as a global, non-profit, non-governmental organization. With members across the world and a secretariat based in Geneva, Switzerland, the IFPMA represents the research-based pharmaceutical industry, including the biotechnology and vaccine sectors. Our members comprise leading international companies as well as national and regional industry associations, in both developed and developing countries, across all five continents. Our primary role is to represent our members' views in dialogue with global intergovernmental organizations, the diplomatic missions of national governments and specialized non-governmental organizations.
- National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy is an impartial professional organization that supports the state boards of pharmacy in creating uniform regulations to protect public health.
- National Council for Prescription Drug Programs
NCPDP creates and promotes the transfer of data related to medications, supplies, and services within the healthcare system through the development of standards and industry guidance. The organization provides a forum and support wherein our diverse membership can efficiently and effectively develop and maintain these standards and guidance through a consensus building process in collaboration with other industry organizations. NCPDP also offers its members resources, including educational opportunities and database services, to better manage their businesses.
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $45.8 billion in 2009 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.3 billion in 2009.
- United States Food and Drug Administration
The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation, and by regulating the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products.
Publications Related to Pharmaceutical Law
- American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education
The American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (AJPE) is the official publication of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). Its purpose is to document and advance pharmaceutical education in the United States and Internationally. The Journal considers material in all areas related to pharmaceutical education. Through open-access Internet publication the Journal intends to take full advantage of the electronic medium; this includes the publication of articles with multimedia features, encompassing 3D graphics, video, interactive figures and databases, and sound.
- FDA - Prescription Medicine Online - Consumer Safety Guide
The Internet has changed the way we live, work and shop. The growth of the Internet has made it possible to compare prices and buy products without ever leaving home. But when it comes to buying medicine online, it is important to be very careful. Some Web sites sell medicine that may not be safe to use and could put your health at risk.
- FDA Drug Development and Approval Process
American consumers benefit from having access to the safest and most advanced pharmaceutical system in the world. The main consumer watchdog in this system is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). The center's best-known job is to evaluate new drugs before they can be sold. The center's evaluation not only prevents quackery, but also provides doctors and patients the information they need to use medicines wisely.
Articles on HG.org Related to Pharmaceutical Law
- Technologies that Can Help Prevent Medical ErrorsEvery year, thousands of American die from medical errors that could have been prevented. At the same time, important advances in technology continue to be made. By implementing certain technologies, human lives may be able to be saved. Further advances may reduce fatal errors, prevent them or remove them completely.
- How Do Medication Errors Occur and Who Is Liable?One of the leading causes of death in the United States is medical malpractice. Many of these injuries are the result of medication errors, which can have devastating effects on patients and their families.
- Actos Whistleblower Lawsuit Alleges Takeda Illegally Promoted Diabetes Drug for Patients with PrediabetesTakeda Pharmaceuticals is facing a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that the company promoted its diabetes drug Actos to patients with prediabetes, despite the fact that it was never approved for this use by the FDA. Studies have shown that patients who use Actos may be more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer.
- Nerve Damage Lawsuits Filed against Makers of Levaquin and Other FQ Antibiotic DrugsThe FDA has warned that patients taking antibiotic drugs known as fluoroquinolones (or FQ antibiotics) may be at risk of developing a serious type of nerve damage known as peripheral neuropathy. Patients taking FQ antibiotics such as Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox, Noroxin, Floxin, and Factive may be at risk of developing serious and potentially permanent nerve damage in the extremities.
- Mother Sues After Taking Zofran During PregnancyWithout ever conducing a clinical trial, GSK marketed Zofran to pregnant women as a treatment for morning sickness.
- Thousands File Low Testosterone Therapy LawsuitsNew testosterone lawsuits are being filed by men claiming to have experienced negative side effects from taking the drug.
- Pill Mill Doctor on Trial for MurderA Los Angeles doctor is facing a lifetime in prison for her alleged role in the drug overdose deaths of at least three of her patients.
- Diabetes Drug Actos Linked to Bladder, Prostate, and Pancreatic Cancer Risk; Thousands File LawsuitsThe diabetes drug Actos has been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer. Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of the drug, has agreed to pay a $2.4 billion settlement to resolve lawsuits alleging that the company hid its knowledge about the link between Actos and bladder cancer from patients. Recent studies have also suggested that Actos may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer.
- Dangerous FLQ Antibiotic Warning Labels Reevaluated by FDAFluoroquinolone antibiotics that are frequently prescribed for sinus infections or urinary tract infections can cause permanent nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy). The FDA has now acknowledged this and is reviewing warning labels now. Learn about the dangers of the dangerous, common drugs.
- Tort Reform Is Not Only Useless, It's HarmfulThe insurance industry and corporate interests have worked for decades to sell the story of “tort reform,” the idea that “frivolous lawsuits” and the high cost of health care can only be stopped by limiting people's right to sue for damages.
- All Health Care and Social Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Health Care and Social including: defective drugs, failure to diagnose, informed consent, medical law, medical malpractice, medication errors, pharmaceutical law, social security, social services law, surgical errors.