Pharmaceutical Law

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.

Intellectual Property

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.

More Information

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 Related to Pharmaceutical Law

  • The Effects of Multiple Expert Witnesses on One Case
    Experts are often the best way to mitigate damage to a case and prove certain aspects that may ensure success for the client in receiving compensation. However, if there are multiple experts added to the claim, this could prove either beneficial or they could severely cause negative consequences which may end in failure.
  • Qualification of an Expert Witness under Federal Law
    Expert witnesses hired for cases must pass the qualifications through federal law before testimony is admissible in a court of law. Even though many professionals claim to be an expert witness, they cannot pass the qualifications through a judge as based on the federal mandates, and this could lead to many claims with disqualification of the expert.
  • Medical Litigation Requires the Use of a Neurological Expert Witness
    Various procedures depend on the expertise and knowledge of a medical expert witness when they go to trial such as incidents of medical malpractice and negligence. When working with the plaintiff, these professionals explain treatment, how an action caused further injury or if the negligence of a doctor led to the death of the patient.
  • Delegating the Task of Finding an Effective Expert Witness
    Finding the right and most effective expert witness for a case is daunting and time consuming, and this leaves the lawyer often delegating the task to another person. Searching and communicating with various sources may require additional time and energy, but when the task has been efficiently delegated, the lawyer is free to perform other actions for the case.
  • Adding an Expert Witness to Your Litigation Support Team
    Litigation claims often are complicated, filled with confusing information and need the help of additional experts, and because of these issues, an expert witness becomes important. He or she may explain various issues to the judge or jury, and his or her testimony presents the courtroom with scientific data as well as understanding of various issues.
  • Avoid Common Pitfalls When Using an Expert Witness
    There are various pitfalls that exist when attempting to use an expert witness. These exist with both the lawyer and the expert, and both should become aware of what to look out for and how to ensure a lasting and beneficial relationship.
  • Expert Witness Expectations in Opioid Lawsuits
    Opioids are the common thread in lawsuits where someone brings a case about physical harm due to medication such as pain relievers and pills. Litigation into these matters is frequently complicated and difficult to understand without the use of an expert witness, and these professionals present testimony about the drugs and their effects.
  • Billing Arrangements Common in Expert Witness Cases
    Expert witness hires come with billing arrangements that are usually set before the professional becomes part of the case. However, sometimes, the lawyer may initiate services, and then he or she will iron out the details after so that the billing is understood.
  • Ethical Considerations in the Relationship between Lawyer and Expert Witness
    The lawyer and expert witness must maintain a professional relationship as they are employer and employee while attempting to build a strong working relationship for the case. By keeping the work-related matters ethical, both must push aside other personal issues so that ethical concerns do not harm the client.
  • Environmental Engineering Expert Witness Can Help in Wastewater Contamination Cases
    Wastewater that has contaminated drinking or ground water is dangerous to the public if it mixes with the primary drinking source. Environmental engineering experts are tasked with explaining in the courtroom how this happens and who is to blame for the problems.
  • 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.

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