Another job for FDA: Online marketing regs

The FDA's out-of-the-blue warning about drugmakers' search-engine ads has the pharma blogosphere up in arms. For months--even years, in some cases--pharma marketing types have been calling on the agency to develop advertising guidelines specific to the Internet and social media such as Twitter, Facebook, et al. Just as FDA has been accused of falling way way way behind on IT and science, marketing experts contended that the agency might as well be living in 1999, online promotion-wise.

The industry shouldn't be forced to read FDA's recent online marketing warnings--including YouTube video citations and this latest search-engine push--like tea leaves, divining the agency's principles from a series of ad hoc decisions. FDA needs to issue some rules, pronto. That's the contention of Pharma Marketing Blog's John Mack, who's been prodding the FDA in that direction since at least 2006. Now, he's hosting a survey, asking readers to decide which process the FDA should use to develop those much-needed rules.

Meanwhile, there's another threat to drugmakers' digital promotions: The FTC has proposed new regs for online marketing that could make viral marketing and social media into a minefield. In certain instances, bloggers could be held legally liable if they make untrue statements about products, and companies would face sanctions if false statements made online could be traced back to a word-of-mouth marketing campaign. Understandably, ad agencies are fighting the rules as they now stand. Should pharma get in on the act, too?

- read the Marketing Blog post
- check out the story at VNUNet

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