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March 22, 2011

Comic book law

Comic book law
Source: Administrative Law Professor Blog. Reproduced with permission. Copyright © 2011, All rights reserved http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/adminlaw/

One of the most entertaining blawgs I follow is LAW AND THE MULTIVERSE: SUPERHEROES, SUPERVILLAINS, AND THE LAW, writting by attorneys James Daily and Ryan Davidson. They examine the legal implications of comic book characters and situations, and sometimes similar movie characters and situations. Often I forward them to my faculty members as potential discussion or exam questions. Today's post is about administrative and criminal law in the discovery and distribution of a new drug.

Introduction:

Limitless opened this weekend, and is the subject of LAW AND THE MULTIVERSE'S second look at a movie. Spoilers to follow, as always.

The basic premise is that Edward Morra (Bradley Cooper) stumbles across a drug, “NZT,” which massively boosts one’s memory and intelligence. This enables him to write his unstarted-and-overdue book in a matter of days, learn any language in a matter of hours, and become a concert-level pianist in a long weekend.

So basically, what we’ve got here is every nerd’s fantasy: if I was only smart enough, I’d be able to get the money and the girl.

The movie has been described as “more interesting than it has any right to be,” which is about right. But there are a number of legal issues in the movie to talk about, mostly about the drug itself.

First, a high-level overview of how drugs are regulated in the US. For a drug to be legally prescribed or distributed it must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Clinical trials for new drugs must also have FDA approval. Some drugs are further restricted by the Controlled Substances Act, which establishes a schedule of controlled substances, some of which can be prescribed by a doctor with a DEA number and some of which are banned outright (e.g. heroin). Finally, individual states can add to (but not subtract from!) the federal controlled substances schedule. Now we’ll look a little closer at how all of this affects NZT.

Daily and Davidson have discussed other administrative law topics, including the Social Security System, air traffic control and the FAA, Superman's immigration status, and federal export control laws. Also torts, contracts, criminal law, Constitutional law, among other subjects. And the comments are usually thoughtful. Fun and educational!

EMM
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