Irony of Ironies – FDA Opens Up a Pharma-Based Twitter Feed

For some time, the pharmaceutical industry has been wondering around the social media space with a blindfold on.  With no guidance, and no indication of any position whatsoever, FDAs DDMAC has let each medical products take their chances in the social media space, occasionally enunciating policy by issuing untitled letters rather than proactively laying out some of the do's and dont's of social media in general, and twitter in particular.

Is the mention of a drug by a company in the context of a tweet considered a reminder ad?  Would it garner an untitled or warning letter, because the risk information is not there in the tweet?  Or is it more akin to the verbal mention of a drug by a sales representative in a booth at a medical meeting? Which is it?  We don't know.  DDMAC has never said.  They will only say it is the message, not the medium, a statement that, in this context, means virtually nothing.

Yet on September 11, the FDA put up a page on its Web site announcing it's own foray into Twitter.   The Twitter site already has over 1500 followers.   Is what is good for the FDA goose now good for the industry gander?  Again, we don't know.  

There are a growing number of medical product companies now on Twitter.  Some use it as a listening post, some as a means of issuing press releases or notices without specific drug mentions. Some have been brave souls and mentioned a drug name in a Tweet.  The fact that they may not have yet received a violation notice from the FDA probably doesn't tell us much since it takes the agency a good long while to generate those letters.

Per FDA law expert Arnie Friede of Arnold I Fried & Associates in New York, this is a "serious incongruity.  FDA is now disseminating its own information on Twitter yet has not adopted a discrete policy on how manufacturers and other regulated entities may use Twitter and other social media to send comparable messages.  There is something seriously wrong and uneven with this picture.  It adds gravitas to the arguments on the need for a discrete FDA policy on social media…"  

Well said.  Arnie points further to the comments recently filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute in response to the FDA's draft guidance on risk disclosure in regulated advertising and promotion.  

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
This entry was posted in FDA Policy, New and Social Media. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Irony of Ironies – FDA Opens Up a Pharma-Based Twitter Feed

Comments are closed.