Tag Archives: FDA

The POM Wonderful v. Coca-Cola Decision Is In, And The Supreme Court Unanimously Sides With Private Plaintiffs

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By: Brian J. Meli

Eleven amicus briefs were filed in support of POM Wonderful and Coca-Cola, but the real argument wasn’t between the captioned parties in the case. This was a clash of laws, pitting the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) against Section 43 of the Lanham Act for consumer protection supremacy. This was a dispute about the authority of administrative rules to usurp the rights of private claimants seeking to recover from commercial injury. The question of first impression: whether compliance with the FDCA and NLEA regulations pertaining to food and beverage labeling requirements precluded POM’s right to bring a private action alleging unfair and deceptive trade practices against a competitor, in this case Coke, under the Lanham Act. Now that The Supreme Court has ruled, we know the answer to that question. And it’s a resounding “no.”

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A Billboard In Peru, And The Obsolescence Of The Commercial Speech Doctrine

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By: Brian J. Meli

For nearly forty years the fault line dissecting freedom of speech under the First Amendment has been a concept as widely accepted in judicial circles as Newton’s law of gravitation in scientific ones. One side of that line belongs exclusively to commercial speech, more commonly known by its street name: advertising. The other side is the domain of non-commercial speech, which is more or less anything that isn’t advertising. Both are protected, but only the latter is considered sacred, and therefore except for a few rare instances (“fire!” in a crowded theater) it’s off-limits to regulators. The distinction is so widely recognized that no one gives it much thought anymore. If you’re the CMO of an e-cigarette company, you know there are limits to what you can say in your advertising, and on your labeling and packaging. But if you’re invited to appear on 60 Minutes, or you’re interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, you’re largely free to express your personal opinions about your product. Whether or not you’re actually conscious of the fact that the former is commercial speech and the latter likely isn’t, you inherently know there’s a difference. 

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Curing A Common Headache: Healthy Habits In Health And Wellness Advertising

Male Executive With Severe Headache - Isolated

By: Brian J. Meli

The healthcare industry is hands down the most regulated on the planet; and for many a good reason. As healthcare costs seem to be on an irrevocable ascent into the firmament, cracking down on anti-competitive behavior among healthcare providers is priority 1A of regulators. Last year, nearly half of all antitrust enforcement actions filed were against healthcare companies, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s annual report. But unfair competition is only part of the government’s oversight of the industry. Regulatory priority 1B, if you will, is protecting consumers from deceptive trade practices; a pursuit that extends well beyond the boundaries of the traditional healthcare sector.

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