Drug War

After His Death, Doctor Targeted by FDA Vindicated for Speaking About Drug

The feds hounded Dr. Peter Gleason to suicide


Peter Gleason was a psychiatrist who devoted much of his professional life to caring for what government officials call "underserved populations." He would have been thrilled to learn that on Dec. 3 in New York, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a ringing opinion that vindicated the conduct for which he was indicted and arrested in 2006.

Unfortunately, Gleason did not live to see this welcome reversal of the federal government's crusade against him and the promotion of Xyrem—a drug widely used by physicians, including Gleason, to treat a number of medical conditions beyond what the federal Food and Drug Administration approved it for. Hounded for years, he saw his career and finances ruined by the relentless war waged against him by FDA bureaucrats and Justice Department prosecutors. Gleason committed suicide on Feb. 7, 2011.

The doctor's troubles stemmed from lectures he gave attesting to the efficacy of Xyrem, a pharmaceutical originally developed for use in narcolepsy but found by physicians to be effective against a number of conditions, including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The FDA had not given formal approval for these so-called "off-label" uses since the manufacturer had not submitted an application covering those ailments.