[An Inside Facebook post]
Pharmaceutical companies have begun creating a presence on Facebook characterized by control and caution. Why? Despite unclear regulations in the U.S. governing their presence online, they may still be penalized for marketing materials on the Internet. The result is, in terms of their Facebook marketing content, a mixed bag of sometimes disingenuous Pages and Groups, fluffy applications and tightly-controlled discussions.
In November of 2009 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hosted a hearing to examine this very issue: how to regulate drug companies’ marketing online — including social networks, blogs, podcasts, Wikipedia, etc. More than 800 parties tried to register to speak at the two-day hearing that included 69 speakers and 77 scheduled presentations; most attendees were either pharmaceutical or marketing reps, and the rest were a tiny fraction of consumers, non-profits and consumer advocacy groups.
According to the FDA, which regulates the promotion or advertising of pharmaceuticals in that country: “The continually evolving nature of the Internet, including Web 2.0 and social media tools… have raised questions and concerns over how to apply existing regulations to promotion in these newer media.”
Currently there are no laws governing what pharmaceutical companies may or may not do online — aside from the general expectation that they disclose risk information alongside drug benefits. The last time the FDA broached the subject was 1996 and has since been based on guidelines for print marketing: where both benefits and risks of drugs must be presented side-by-side…[See the full post here]