Sunday, November 15, 2009

What We Were Hearing About the Hearings

On the 12th and 13th of last week, the FDA held its hearings on establishing guidelines for social media for pharma.

Or, as it was officially titled, the much catchier, "Promotion of Food and Drug Administration - Regulated Medical Products Using the Internet and Social Media Tools."

As expected, it was a big event for the industry, with over 800 people trying to register online for the 300 available seats and everyone and their mother offering opinions across the Twittersphere.

Ironically, though, nobody could tweet directly from the hearings themselves. There was no WiFi available in the room where they were being held.

The big news the first day seemed to be phARMA's recommendation of a "Seal of Approval"-type logo that would go on all social sites that meet the FDA’s guidelines for fair balance, non-promotion of off-label uses, reporting of adverse effects, etc. A very smart and extremely simple opening salvo by the industry.

Of course, to back this idea up, every pharma company would have to actively moderate every discussion and respond quickly and forcefully in the event of an off-label suggestion or the mention of adverse effects. It's where things are going any way. Might as well grab the bull by the horns.

From what I picked up, the second day of the hearings seemed to be a little more confrontational and less kindly towards the industry's point of view.

Considering all the data that shows how much people depend on the Web for their healthcare information, you'd think the FDA would want itself and pharma to all be on the same page when it comes to helping people make smart, educated decisions on what could literally be matters of life and death.

At least the discussion has begun.

– Mark

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