Page 13 - RWU Law / Issue#4 Fall 2012

The Magazine of Roger Williams University School of Law
Do you ever get annoyed by those slick
pharmaceutical ads that show soft-focused
scenes of contentment while the narrator
blithely intones a laundry list of alarming
side effects?
William Martoccia ’12 was annoyed,
too – and he parlayed his frustration into a
Hirsh Award, placing second nationally in
the American College of Legal Medicine’s
Writing Competition. Martoccia’s
paper, titled “The Future of Pharmaceutical
Manufacturer’s Direct-to-Consumer
Advertisements,” began as a directed research
project under Professor Larry Ritchie.
I just wasn’t comfortable with the
fact that these commercials are being
broadcast so frequently, and that they’re
so clever, attractive and often misleading,”
says Martoccia, whose pre-law-school
experience included several years working
as a pharmacy technician.
Traditionally, a patient would present
the doctor with symptoms and indicia
of complications, and then the doctor
would prescribe what was appropriate,” he
explains. “My research confirmed that more
and more consumers are now watching
these ads, going into their doctor’s office
and asking by name for prescription
medications that they saw on television.”
Martoccia’s article discusses how “the
pharmaceutical industry spends twice the
amount of their profits on advertising and
marketing rather than on research and
development; because of this, what was once
the doctor-patient relationship has been
transformed into a hybrid manufacturer-
doctor-patient relationship.”
In this new circumstance, Martoccia
argues, “the ‘learned intermediary’ doctrine
that places liability on the doctor when these
products injure people” no longer makes
A Bench for Kenny
A new bench was installed outside the School of Law entrance
this fall, bearing the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Injustice
anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The bench is dedicated to the memory of the late Kenny
Waters, who was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years before his
sister – alumna Betty Anne Waters ’98 – completed her law
degree at Roger WIlliams and won him exoneration in 2001.
Their incredible story was chronicled in the 2010 Hilary Swank
feature film, “Conviction.”
Waters attended the event along with some of her and Kenny’s
other siblings, as well as Kenny’s daughter Mandy. Representatives
from the New York and Boston offices of the Innocence Project –
which was instrumental in helping Betty Anne Waters formulate
and execute her DNA-based challenge to Kenny’s conviction –
were also in attendance.
In remarks at the ceremony, Betty Anne Waters recounted her
discovery of the Innocence Project and of the then-new field of
DNA evidence while researching a paper with RWU Law librarian
Nanette Balliot. She expressed her family’s appreciation for her
alma mater’s tribute.
My hope is that, when people sit on this bench in years to
come, they will pause and think about the importance of justice
in the world,” she said. “I hope they will remember Kenny, too.
I can’t think of a better gift than that.”
A New Prescription for Drug Advertising?
sense. “All liability should be placed on
the manufacturers,” he concludes, “due to
their self-insertion into the doctor-patient
Martoccia’s paper, along with the other
two Hirsh Award winners, is being reviewed
by the editors of the Journal of Legal
Medicine for possible future publication.
Alumna Betty Anne Waters (second from left) with Librarian Nanette
Balliot, Associate Dean Andrew Horwitz and Professor Larry Ritchie,
all of whom she worked with during her years at RWU Law on her
way to exonerating her brother.