Hello. Eight years ago yesterday – February 9, 2006 – I began this blog with my first posting. Since then, I have published 1250 more postings.
Though it seems like only yesterday, 2006 was a very different time:
- George W. Bush was President of the United States.
- There was no FDA Commissioner at the time – Lester C. Crawford had left FDA in September 2005 and Andrew C. Von Eschenbach would not come in until December 2006.
- FDA approved 22 new molecular entities that year.
- People were getting nervous about Avian flu.
- Google bought YouTube.
- Facebook was two years old and in September 2006, it was opened up to anyone over 13 years of age who had an email address.
- MySpace was a top web site.
- Twitter would not exist for another month.
Certainly Pharma wasn’t engaged in social media – nor were many other companies. Journalists, with the exception of some bloggers, weren’t there either.
Back then, professional blogs were kind of scarce. Blogging was considered the realm of teenagers keeping diaries online, or sensationalists spreading gossip, to a large degree. A colleague of mine began writing a blog that had intelligent musings on what was going on – with a regular Friday posting called This Week in Jewish Baseball. I thought to myself, “Hey, I could do that – only write about the area in which I work professionally…” I was – and am – fortunate enough to work for a company that saw the wisdom in that. And so I began writing about the regulation of the marketplace for medicines and the actions of the agency that regulates one-fourth of our economy.
Since then, I have tried to cover the stuff that is important related to the developments that affect not only those who communicate about the pharmaceutical market place, but patients who are consumers in that marketplace. There have been a few basic driving tenets along the way – I have always wanted to give readers useful information – things that would make them look smart and resources that would help them make important decisions. I have always wanted to call attention to things that, while important, might have their strategic implications overlooked because we are so busy in our daily lives. Sometimes, the blog has given me a little room to provide personal insight, particularly about my time working in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. And from time to time even, there has even been news – such as when FDA provided its first insight into the regulation of social media in a podcast in March, 2009.
Certainly times have changed. Advisory committees activities used to be reported on by reporters who attended meetings and wrote about them in their publications. Today tweets from those watching the proceedings tell the story. Patients have not only become e-patients, but one-fourth of the people using the FDA website are doing so from a mobile device. The pharma industry has scores of Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, Pinterest accounts and presence on Google+. Even FDA has 13 Twitter feeds that it manages. All of this has had profound ramifications and implications for the communications around medicines and how we use them. It has been nothing short of fascinating to see communications so changed in such a short span of time.
Eight years is a long time and a lot has happened and yet amazingly, I have not aged at all.
There are about 3300 subscribers to the blog – divided about half and half between people who subscribe by RSS feed and people who subscribe by email. You are mostly FDA beat writers, people who work in pharma and folks in other communications firms who work with industry, as well as patient organizations. The Eye on FDA Twitter feed has over 10,500 followers. I want to thank everyone for reading and watching and sticking around. And I look forward to talking about more in the years to come.