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FDA atwitter about social media?

FDA atwitter about social mediaThe big news this week was that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold public hearings on social-media use at pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

Reactions have ranged from "it's about time" to "astounding" to "stunning". And even though the meeting is two months away, industry and stakeholders are already jockeying for position.

For years, industry has treated lightly around social media. Sure, some companies are using Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. But most were wary of attracting FDA's ire or having lawyers troll FDA's adverse-event databases for complaints about injuries caused by drugs' side effects that could be turned into class-action law suits.

As industry gets ready for the November hearing, it is interesting to see how many groups have a vested interested in the outcome. Of course, there are the pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. But the ad industry has a vested outcome in the debate as well. And so do the PR industry, the search engines that sell ad space, physicians, and consumer groups.

Even translators have a stake in this. What little social media use that has taken place to date has been in English. Translation service providers are giddy imagining a world where drug and device companies want blog posts translated into dozens of languages, will invest in multilingual SEO, and multi-cultural marketing away from the fringes.

Ahhh, the possibilities...

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  1. Timo Ahopelto said...
    It is great that the Agency gets active in this matter.

    Eventually the regulated pharmaceuticals will be shaped by the non-regulated online technology community - both by its consumers, and maybe even more by its companies wanting to find yet another industry to shift profits from.
    ForeignExchange Translations said...
    Hi Timo - I agree. The question is how long it will take to get to "eventually".

    A while ago, Diabetes Mine published two good barriers to the use of social media:
    1) FDA regulations that require reporting of "adverse events" and "off-label uses" of drugs
    2) Fear of the above, given the highly litigious environment in the U.S.

    But then again, maybe these are just myths and excuses.
    Blueknowser said...
    I think this goes further yet... when an investigation is launched, the FDA has the capacity to look into email traffic as well as social networks for indications of activity, prior knowledge and so on. The field talk by computer is evidence to all investigating agencies. Care should be taken to ensure that comments are well founded, intended and directed.
    Jon said...
    Expect the FDA to treat social media messages just like any other promotional materials. Companies shouldn't make claims that aren't true, suggest off-label uses, or say anything that would be viewed negatively by FDA.

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