A blog exploring pharmaceutical relationship marketing, emarketing and innovation with a focus on rare disorders.
The convergence of rare disease, digital communications, and pharmaceutical marketing communications

The FDA and Web 2.0

Posted by | 10:35am on Thursday, March 19, 2009

As marketers, we need to go where the conversation is happening, listen to our audience and push for a day when we can fully and responsibly participate. 

Mark Senak from Eye on FDA posted a conversation with FDA/DDMAC about pharma, social media and Web 2.0.

From his post:

“Despite the crushing amount of incentives to go digital, the pharmaceutical utilization of social media and Web 2.0 has been hobbled by regulatory concerns that participation might necessarily trigger FDA action in the form of a warning letter.  There have been a few pioneers in the space, but the majority of pharmaceutical firms are not engaged and sit paralyzed as control over their brands ebbs away into the ether.

To date, FDA and the Division for Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications (DDMAC) has been relatively quiet on the subject.  While the agency has a number of guidances on a wide variety of topics, there is nothing on this topic.  In such a vacuum, many have made assumptions about the use of social media and for many, any time the subject comes up – it is a non-starter.”

Hear the podcast for yourself

Mark specifically asks about the liability of posting approved videos on YouTube.  What if someone downloads a video, changes it and reposts it?  Dr. Kang responds that, according to the FDA guidelines, as long as no person from a company is linked to the changed content, the company is not responsible.  A company posting a video on YouTube should follow the same guidelines as a company making a video for any other avenue.

The podcast does not address the real issue of brands joining the conversation in any meaningful two-way dialogue. As an industry, there is a lot we could contribute but there is also a lot of work left to do to figure out how to participate responsibly.

Trends affecting the rise of social media in health care

There are three big trends that are affecting the rise of social media for health care:

  1. There are more recognized disease states and more therapies than ever before.
  2. People are living longer with chronic conditions. Conditions that a few decades ago might not even have had a therapy available.
  3. And there is too much information for any one person to keep up, including healthcare providers.

These trends are driving patients and caregivers to seek information online.  According to the PEW Internet & American Life Project, not only do people use the Internet to seek information about healthcare options, but also people with chronic illnesses are more likely to access and act on information they get from the Internet.

As marketers, we need to go where the conversation is happening, listen to our audience and push for a day when we can fully and responsibly participate. The best eMarketing for pharma brands that treat chronic diseases is providing good information — when, how, where and what the patient communities are asking for.

What do you think?  How can marketers effectively and responsibly engage with patients via social media? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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About Wendy White

Since founding Siren Interactive in 1999, Wendy has been recognized as a thought leader at the intersection of niche pharma brands, patient empowerment and online marketing. Her vision for how the internet can facilitate interactions and provide crucial information that patients, caregivers and their healthcare providers previously struggled to find has propelled Siren to the forefront of relationship marketing for rare disorder therapies.

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