Public Health, Social Media and the Pharmaceutical Industry

Jun 20, 2014

2014 has become a blockbuster year for Social Media guidance from the FDA. This week the FDA published draft guidance on the “Do’s and Don’ts” of social media platforms with character limitations (like Twitter) and how to correct user generated content (UGC) with misinformation.

In both of these publications, the FDA continued to make clear that the guidelines were developed with public health in mind.

“The public health is best served when risk and effectiveness information about drug and device products is clearly and accurately communicated.”

The references to public health reinforce the primary goal of these documents, which is to address — with the best of intentions — how prescription drug manufactures and medical device companies can use newer technologies to enhance patient knowledge and understanding.

Today, the public — which is comprised of our patients or healthcare consumers — turns to numerous social media sources for information about their disease or medication. They also…

  • share healthcare stories, concerns, triumphs and failures
  • sometimes provide inaccurate information regarding drugs
  • inform their social communities of adverse drug reactions
  • struggle with conflicting, potentially lethal guidance provided by unknown and likely uneducated sources

And until now the public’s health has been in jeopardy because without FDA guidance all of these posts, tweets and blogs were minimally addressed even by “socially astute” pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The inevitable expansion of social media, within the FDA regulated environment, will improve our patient’s knowledge and understanding of diseases, drugs, medical devices, healthcare, etc. as those licensed to manufacture and market healthcare therapies expand their listening, engaging, analyzing and reporting of social interactions.

Telerx has developed a Pharma Social Media Guidebook that outlines our advice for developing social media strategies within the FDA regulatory environment. And in a few days Telerx’s newest Social Media Strategist, Phil Baumann (@healthissocial), will post his list of pharma social media best practices.

Maybe now we can move forward with well thought-out, coherent and appropriate social media strategies to support public health, our brands and our corporate reputations.


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