Friday, December 17, 2010

Social Media Changed the Game, But the Rules Remain the Same: There Are No Rules

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What constitutes responsible marketing in the pharmaceutical and health care industries?

Hah! Wouldn’t you like to know…Problem is regulators have an annoying habit of keeping their cards close to the vest – especially the blank ones.

As far back as the ancient days of DTC when dinosaurs – print and broadcast – ruled the earth, the regulatory rule of thumb has always been, “You tell us, then we’ll tell you you’re wrong.”

Thousands of digital years later – roughly three analogue years – emerging media platforms like Twitter have turned a regulatory minefield into…well…a regulatory minefield, only on steroids.

Under the circumstances, to even attempt to navigate the digital frontier would seem a fool’s errand. But to do nothing? Even more foolish, of course.

According to Mark Senak – author of the leading blog “EyeOnFDA,” a health care public affairs pro with Fleishman-Hillard and a lawyer with a keen interest in pharma regulatory issues – it is possible, indeed advisable, to market pharmaceutical products and health care services in the social media world.

In part one of a four-part interview for IIR’s new podcast series – “ePharma Insights & Prescriptions” – Senak provides an introduction to the regulatory landscape and tackles the dilemmic question: Are we better off?

And please tune in to part two of our interview with Mark Senak, when we’ll discuss some common epharma marketing mistakes. We’ll also weigh ROI considerations versus the opportunity cost of not having a robust social media presence, and we’ll speculate on where the FDA may be headed in the near term.

Author’s note: Senak will be co-conducting a workshop on FDA/DDMAC enforcement trends at IIR’s 10th Annual ePharma Summit on Monday Feb 7.

To register or for more information, please visit

Marc Dresner is an IIR communication lead with a background in trade journalism and marketing. He is the former executive editor of Pharma Market Research Report, a confidential newsletter for market researchers in the pharmaceutical industry. He may be reached at

Click here to download Part 1 of the ePharma Insights & Prescriptions Podcast.
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