Turmoil is spreading through many universities in the US about what can be taught or said, the Internet has brought the issue of speech that harms people into the sphere of public debate and all the while, the issue of freedom of speech in medicine and healthcare lingers…
What is becoming evident is that patients as well as those in the medical profession need to begin making some important steps in the right direction.
With the right to have access to proper information whether it relates to off-label drug/prescriptions, alternative treatments or access to a hormone clinic, now, we are beginning to realize that there is a fine line between an authority figure telling someone to do something and actually dishing out medical advice or appealing to the emotions.
Let’s face it, a patient-healthcare provider relationship is a very specific type of contract.
In New Mexico, a complaint has been filed against three EXPO New Mexico officials for unconstitutional attempts to limit the company’s rights to display a cannabis educational and informative booth at the New Mexico State Fair in 2017.
Duke Rodriguez, CEO & President of Ultra Health® believes public education on this medicine is necessary and has said that Medical cannabis is 100 percent legal in New Mexico.
The British professor John Yudkin was silenced when he tried to warn us about sugar in 1972, causing it to take nearly 50 years for us to realize what he was saying.
The sad fact is that biases and conflicts of interest in virtually every field of medicine, especially those that rely heavily on devices and drugs.
The alarming part is that journals have traditionally been more likely to reject studies that find harm or no benefit in a treatment and to publish those that find benefit.
Medical journals not having enough clear-language critiques of hyped results or flawed science could arise due to healthcare professionals’ employment contracts which come with warnings about harming the brand as well as strong no-compete clauses.
Unfortunately, most of those in editorial roles are themselves clinician scientists and they depend on friendly editorial review in the future as well as industry funding of research.
If a researcher does a study and can find some benefit of a drug to publish, the researcher also has a much better chance of getting future grants from companies to do studies and to have his/her study published.
However, developments on the horizon seem to bring promise. Arizona’s legislature passed the Free Speech in Medicine Act, which has been signed into law and the U.S. Congress should be able to replicate this at the federal level via the Medical Product Communications Act (H.R.1703, aka the Griffith Bill). This legislature relates to “off-label” usage of drugs (when a drug is prescribed for other than the drug’s specific intended use).
Despite what you may think, off-label usage of drugs is important and common because certain drugs can actually be used for other ailments as well as the ones they are intended for.
Legislation can play a part in fostering greater communication on off-label usage of drugs in order to improve safety.
There have also been state laws elsewhere that require doctors to perform an ultrasound, describe the image of the fetus to the woman and tell her that the fetus can feel pain before providing her with an abortion.
Dozens of “crisis pregnancy centers” have sued the state of California over a law requiring them to publicly post or notify their patients that they can have state-funded/low-cost abortion services.
Denise Harle, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom asks the pertinent question, “Can the government compel people to speak a message they don’t agree with and then punish them if they don’t?”.
The Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Bret Stephens wrote that “If you can’t speak freely, you’ll quickly lose the ability to think clearly,”.
Then, some might ask, what happens when you are being forced to speak?
To be educated and speak responsibly is a huge part of the basis for civilization’s progression in a democratic society however, freedom of speech does not mean that you are not going to face the consequences of what you say.