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FDA Publishes Social Media Guidelines for Pharma

22 Jan, 2014 By: Doug McPherson


WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a draft of guidelines for social media marketing and advertising by pharmaceutical companies. The guidelines cover interactive promotional media, including tools and technologies that often allow for real-time communications and interactions such as social networks, microblogs, blogs, online communities and live podcasts, among other things.

The FDA says firms will be held responsible for all promotional content on any site or account owned or otherwise controlled by the firm, including, for example, all marketing messages posted by the company to its account on Facebook or Twitter, as well as the company’s own blogs.

Marketers will also be held responsible for any content posted on third-party sites where their firm has powers of editorial review or otherwise influences the content posted there – but, importantly, they won’t be held responsible for content on sites where they are merely paying to post marketing communications, with no control over other content posted. They will also be responsible for any content posted by an employee or other paid representative on a third-party site.

MediaPost reports that companies are allowed to post promotional messages on social media without first having to submit them to the FDA for approval, enabling them to take advantage of social media’s dynamic, real-time qualities. However, they are obliged to submit all promotional content to the FDA after the fact. Because of the volume of content created by social media sites, the FDA suggested that companies submit monthly reports of activity on real-time platforms like Twitter.

The new rules should also allow more flexibility when it comes to interaction with patients and customers by permitting user comments on pharma websites and social media accounts, without requiring the company to submit every user comment for regulatory review.


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