Thursday, January 6, 2011

“ePharma Insights & Rx” Podcast Series Part Two: Navigating the Digital Frontier Without a Map

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2011 has arrived, but when it comes to regulatory guidance for ePharma marketing, don’t look to FDA/DDMAC to put the “new” in “Happy New Year” anytime soon.

Just before the holiday break – while many of us were distracted tying up loose ends, packing bags and halfway out the door – regulators quietly offered pharma marketers of all religious persuasions a holiday gift…sort of.

In lieu of a lump of coal, we received yet another vague promise that our friends at FDA might deliver in Q1 a belated draft guidance addressing at least one or two points on their laundry list of Internet and social media quandaries with regard to the promotion of regulated medical products.

Fleishman-Hillard health care public affairs pro Mark Senak – who also happens to be a lawyer with a keen interest in pharma regulatory issues – reviewed DDMAC’s latest statement in a 12/21 post for his EyeOnFDA blog.

Senak’s appraisal of the situation is a bit sunnier than that of yours truly; he’s cautiously optimistic that regulators would not miss a second self-imposed deadline. And he’s probably right, although he questioned whether anything substantive would come of it.

This leaves pharma marketers with an unenviable but all-too-familiar deer-in-the-headlights dilemma: wait for the truck to run you down or dash fast and hope you avoid traffic in the next lane.

In Part Two of a four-part interview for IIR’s new podcast series – “ePharma Insights & Prescriptions” – Senak suggests that when it comes to social media for pharma marketers the choice is obvious: Move!

The key, however, is to proceed with caution. Accordingly, 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.

To listen to the podcast or download a transcript, click here.

And please be sure to tune in to Part Three of our interview with Senak, where we’ll delve into some Twitter talk!

We’ll also discuss the evolution of search and the rise of the “semantic Web,” and Mark will share thoughts about taking calculated risks in an environment where regulators can’t keep pace with emerging marketing media.

Author’s note: Mark 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

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