Monday, November 21, 2011

Public Health & Social Media: Can Pharma companies afford to wait for regulation?

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Almost two years ago, in December 2009, the FDA held a public gathering "Public Hearing on Promotion of FDA-Regulated Medical Products Using the Internet and Social Media Tools."  Yet, almost two years later, they have produced no regulations as to how Pharma companies can use online media and social channels to communicate with their audience.

In Matthew C. Nisbet's article at big think, he points that there are two problems with the current lack of regulation for the Pharma industry from the FDA:
  • The existing rules already created for other Pharma mediums are being inconsistently enforced
  • Existing FDA regulations do not properly translate over to the digital/social space

Nisbet also points out that even though Pharma's digital presence online is not all that it can be due to lack of regulation, there's plenty of false information floating around because it is such an accessible place for people to search and post health information, many of which is not from professionals.  He looks to three main sectors to release guidance for Social Media:
  1. Company controlled online communication 
  2. Company controlled and hosted online communications
  3. Real time social media communications
At ePharma Summit 2012, Pfizer will be presenting "You’ve Got Lots of Digital Content, They’ve Got Lots of Peers. Enable Consumers to Share Your Content Compliantly to Their Peers".  They'll examine how to reach your audience online and explain their strategies to align legal, regulatory, medical and brand teams in the digital initiative.  For more information on ePharma Summit 2012, download the brochure here.  As a reader of the ePharma blog, mention code XP1706BLOG to receive 10% off the standard rate when your register!

How is Pharma's lack of presence online affecting the health information that can be found online?  Do you think Pharma could help increase the quality of public health information online?  Do they need the FDA regulation to do that?
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