Monday, July 14, 2014

Facebook Activity Earns Zarbee's a Slap on the Wrist from FDA

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The FDA continued their focus on social media by coming down on Zarbee's for activity on the company’s Facebook page.  Zarbee's, a company focusing on natural cough remedies for young children, received a letter from the FDA outlining transgressions within (relatively) recent social media activity.  The letter specifically focused on Facebook activity including likes on certain comments as well as two tweets from earlier this year.  Most of the highlighted activity took place in January and February of this year although two posts from October 2013 are mentioned as well. 

Some of the specific posts cited include:

  • “Liking” the Facebook comment, “…I received your…Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep Product. I have a daughter…born with cerebral palsy and she suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome… [s]he took the samples you sent and slept through the night…best sleep she has had in years…”
  • “Liking” the Facebook comment, “…It is the best thing for my granddaughters bronchitis.”
  • Tweeting: Try @Zarbees #naturalremedies for Cold and Cough Season…
  • Tweeting: RT @MomCentral Have you tried #ZarbeesCough for cold and cough relief?

According to the letter, the company overstepped their boundaries by representing their products as drugs when they endorsed these comments.  The FDA explained, “Your products are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced uses and, therefore, these products are “new drugs.” 

Under the new draft FDA draft guidances, Zarbee's is not necessarily obligated to correct any of this information posted by independent third parties, but liking or re-posting it qualified as an endorsement.  Similar comments currently reside on some posts on their page but remain untouched by Zarbee's—Seemingly keeping them off the list of violations. 

Zarbees Facebook FDA Social Media

This has been the most noteworthy application of the FDA’s new draft guidances since they were published several weeks ago.  Pharma companies have historically erred on the side of caution when it comes to social and this example will likely only reinforce that approach.  We haven’t seen the last FDA warning on social but you can be assured that no one wants to be that next example. 

Want to hear more on the FDA’s social media guidance?  Hear from the FDA’s own Mark Roh as he walks through some of the new guidelines at this year’s ePharma West.  Join us September 22-24 in San Francisco. Download the agenda to see what’s on tap.

SAVE $100 as a reader of this blog. Register now and use code XP1956BLOG. 

This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz

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