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Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc

    Brief Fact Summary. The Respondent, the Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc. (Respondent), argues that the state code prohibiting the advertising of prescription prices is unconstitutional.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Commercial speech is a form of protected speech that can be regulated to protect the public from deceptive or misleading information.

    Facts. Virginia will charge a licensed pharmacist of being unprofessional if he advertises the amount he charges for prescription drugs. Drug prices vary greatly (up to 650%) by location. Therefore, the Respondent advocates for disclosure of the prices of drugs.

    Issue. Is “commercial speech” protected by the First Amendment?

    Held. Yes. But, the First Amendment does not prevent the state from regulating advertisements.

    Dissent. Restrictions on commercial speech should be left to the discretion of state legislatures.

    Discussion. There is a substantial public interest in the content of advertisements. The wording and suggestions will lead consumers to buy or use products. If the product does not function as advertised, then the government has a legitimate interest in protecting the economic well-being and health of the public.


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