Conference booth = advertising?

From BNET’s 10 weirdest drug stories of the month comes the following, originally reported by the Science Insider blog:

“Most scientific meetings don’t need bouncers. But a Novartis stand at the annual gathering of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene had two guards—just to keep away U.S. residents.

“The reason? The booth has information about Coartem, an anti-malarial drug sold by the tens of millions of doses in the developing world. As long as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet given its green light to Coartem (a decision is due on 26 December) the stand would constitute an advertisement for an unapproved drug, says Novartis’s Hans Rietveld—and that’s illegal.

“Reactions among conventioneers ranged from puzzled and amused to annoyed. But not to worry: The drug was also discussed during several scientific sessions.”