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Digital Health Coalition at ePharma Summit

Posted by | 11:07am on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Facebook is rolling out the timeline format to brand pages on February 29, 2012 

Siren is proud to support the Digital Health Coalition, a nonprofit created to serve as the collective public voice and national public forum for the discussion of the current and future issues relevant to digital and electronic marketing of healthcare products and services. Led by Mark Bard and Joe Farris, the Digital Health Coalition held an event on February 6 in New York City as part the ePharma Summit. Bard released and reviewed “Social Media and User-generated Health and Medical Content: Guiding Principles and Best Practices for Companies and Users.” I strongly recommend reading these common sense principles.

All the presenters were excellent, but I’m going to recap the regulatory focused presentations and the changes announced by a Facebook representative.

Mark Gaydos, Vice President, U.S. Regulatory Affairs Marketed Products at Sanofi, started off the sessions by sharing how Sanofi has been able to embrace social media. It’s especially admirable that Sanofi, which took a beating early on via social media, is using the space to have two-way conversations.

I’ve praised Sanofi’s social media work before, in particular, their efforts with the March of Dimes on the Sounds of Pertussis education campaign, including a Facebook page where an engaged community interacts. Gaydos discussed Sanofi’s social media cross-functional social media task force, which develops guardrails and trains employees. He noted that transparency is key when engaging in social media. He said there are employees identified to represent Sanofi via social media in a non-promotional way with no need for pre-approval. I’m assuming an example of this is the community manager, Laura Kolodjeski, who does a great job with their diabetes blog and Facebook page. She responds to posts appropriately and lets her warm personality shine through.

Recent FDA guidance
Gaydos also mentioned December’s FDA guidance on unsolicited off-label requests. When a question was asked about responding to on-label questions, Gaydos felt that the FDA did not need to provide guidance on this because it was already in place. He said unsolicited on-label questions in public forums could be addressed publicly following all existing guidelines.

David Ralston, Senior Director, Business Conduct at Gilead, also reviewed this “holiday surprise” guidance. He said that if a company could address public unsolicited off-label comments with on-label information in that public forum, then “go for it.” Ralston also provided a great example of what could be possible by sharing an example of some Australian guidance.

Peter Pitts, a former FDA official now at the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, shared many of the points from this Medical Marketing & Media article. In summary, he felt it was the FDA saying basically “use your best judgment.”

More changes coming to Facebook
“Connections aren’t worth anything unless people are engaging,” explained John Patten from Facebook. He reminded the audience that there’s more to Facebook than pages, including ads, polls, apps and plug-ins. He announced that Facebook is rolling out the timeline format to brand pages on February 29, 2012. Patten assured the room that brands would have several months to move to the timeline format before it became mandatory. Patten also said that Facebook will launch a new feature that will allow brand page admins the ability to private message individuals who have potential adverse events.

In summary, I’ll quote Mary Ann Belliveau from Google who said, “Social media allows pharma to make real relationship with real people.” I agree.

(Image courtesy of Alan Turkus on Flickr).

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

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