FDA may disappoint pharma on social media

Will pharma's hope for detailed FDA guidance on social media prove futile? Advertising Age suspects it will. Citing recent comments by the FDA's Tom Abrams, who heads up the Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications, the trade pub says the agency appears to be leaning toward small tweaks to current marketing rules rather than sweeping change.

Abrams said in early February that part of the delay in issuing new social-media guidance--which the industry had expected last year--was that the FDA doesn't want to issue "quickly outdated" guidance. Basically, the agency doesn't want to make rules for Facebook and Twitter use, because both platforms may fade in importance or disappear.

A few weeks later, Abrams told DIA's annual marketing meeting that the new guidance will cover "some specific matters," but that "there will be no new regulations or new standards." Abrams mentioned the FDA's recent warning letters--such as the Novartis warning about linking to its Facebook page--and said, "These Warning Letters cite existing rules and do not make new policy."

As AdAge points out, social media is vastly different from traditional advertising, so the current guidelines don't really apply. Drugmakers have been looking for--even expecting--a big change in marketing policy. "This is going to be a pretty serious disappointment to pharma companies," marketing expert John Kamp said.

- read the AdAge article