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Does FTC Social Media Guidance Provide Clues for Pharma?

Posted by | 5:32pm on Thursday, March 14, 2013
Federal Trade Commission building sign

This makes it clear that for health and safety products even the FTC won’t allow a hyperlink 

The pharmaceutical industry has yet to receive specific guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on social media. People are wondering if the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule on social media, “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising,” on March 12, 2013 will have any impact on the FDA.

I suspect it will not, but it is still worthwhile to review the FTC guidance.

The FTC on social media
“When practical, advertisers should incorporate relevant limitations and qualifying information into the underlying claim, rather than having a separate disclosure qualifying the claim.” The FTC also appears to revive the mythical “one-click rule” that allows important information to be a hyperlink click away. “However, when it is not possible to make a disclosure in a space-constrained ad, it may, under some circumstances, be acceptable to make the disclosure clearly and conspicuously on the page to which the ad links.”

It would be wonderful if the FDA follows the “one-click rule” but I highly doubt this will happen. In an example the FTC notes, “Hyperlinks should not be used to communicate disclosures that are an integral part of a claim or inseparable from it, including important health and safety information.” This makes it clear that for health and safety products even the FTC won’t allow a hyperlink. I agree with Arnie Friede in this Pharmalot post that this may be what the FDA chooses to emulate.

One area where the FTC does agree with the FDA is that it all comes down to intent. The intent has to be to provide complete and accurate information to consumers, and this is what’s important to pharma marketers.

Image courtesy of John Taylor on Flickr (CC BY).

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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  • http://twitter.com/pharmaphorum/status/312496021047488512/ @pharmaphorum

    “Does FTC Social Media Guidance Provide Clues for Pharma?” asks @eileenobrien http://t.co/22i9ckilCn #pharma #hcsm #hcsmeu

  • http://innercitymedicine.com Darin Gilstrap

    The typical US consumer-patient suffers from an epidemic of disorders that can reasonably be controlled or treated by products regulated by the FDA, FTC, USDA and directly/indirectly through US DOL (via employee health benefits and access). So to think that FDA social media policy is the end all be all to finally opening flood gates to pharma social media revolution; folks really don’t understand US healthcare and the US consumer patient.

    Prime example: which federal agency regulates tobacco advertising? Which regulates alcohol advertising? Which regulates vitamins & supplements advertising? Which regulates livestock and grain and its derivatives? Which regulates beverages sold into the C-store, QSR and fast casual dining sector?

    If you can answer these then you can reasonable cure 90% of the health issues plaquing the 8-80 year old American patient.

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