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    Is the FDA violating the right to free speech?

    Sharing of truthful information in question for unapproved use of drugs

    Take-home message: I am grateful that my ophthalmologist friend and I live and practice in countries where we are free to speak our minds.


    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    —Evelyn Beatrice Hall (although often misattributed to Voltaire)

    My friend (a very skilled ophthalmologist) lives in a country that has been having some difficulties lately: lack of economic growth, fiscal mismanagement, and governmental corruption. Tomorrow, he plans to attend—along with a million or so of his fellow citizens—a public protest calling for a change, via constitutional means, in the political leadership.

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    This does not worry me too much because he lives in a country where people can peacefully assemble and give speeches denouncing what they perceive to be corrupt or incompetent government officials without fearing that they will be tear gassed, beaten, imprisoned, or worse.Dr. McDonnell

    My own country is famous for its defense of “free speech.” We Americans can spout things from our pie holes that are incredibly ridiculous and inane and get away with it (for proof of this, simply listen to some of the candidates aspiring to the presidency of this fair land).

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    We are not supposed to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, when there is no fire, because of the physical danger that would pose to innocent moviegoers that could be hurt in a stampede to the exits. But along with some other mostly reasonable exceptions designed to protect the safety of others, we can pretty much say what we want.

    Next: "Federal judges are saying the FDA has violated the sacred American right to free speech"

    Peter J. McDonnell, MD
    He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of ...

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