Last week's two-day hearing on online drug marketing and social media was definitely a marathon, both in time logged and words entered into the record. Ideas flew from online providers and drugmakers and consumer advocates alike; predictably, many of them contradicted one another. And now it's up to the FDA to sift through all that testimony, digest the meaningful bits, and propose a policy.
Helpfully, some online types have offered summaries of the issues and ideas presented. But even those are lengthy. So we'll give you the executive summary of the summaries. Presenters made the case that online marketing and social media are crucial to companies--but that they can also help consumers by getting the word out on drug safety and educating patients about illness and its management.
Everyone seemed to agree that adverse-event reporting needs a major upgrade, and that drugmakers need guidance on how much they're expected to monitor online discussion about side effects. They also agreed that drugmakers need to know a.) what information online they're held responsible for, and b.) how far they're expected to go to correct misinformation that propogates online.
Everybody concurred on the importance of search engines, both in the advertising opportunities they offer and their role in spreading drug information. And the operative word across the board was click. Click through, click conversion, click horizontally, click vertically... in any case, as Common Sense Media Group points out, we don't live in a one-click world anymore.
How will FDA define this new world? We'll have to wait until after February 28 to see. That's when the agency will stop collecting public comments on the issue. So if you have something to say, you have a month or two to make sure you're heard.