Today's the day you pharma marketing folks have been waiting for: The beginning of FDA's two-day public hearing on social-media and online drug promotions. If there's any doubt that inquiring drugmakers want to know, hear this: Some 900 people tried to register for the event, Reuters reports, far outstripping the meeting site's 350-person capacity.
Here's why. Dazed and confused by the array of new online marketing options--and understandably wary of FDA's response to said array--drugmakers have either tiptoed very very carefully or simply abstained. And still, the FDA sent out 14 warning letters on search-engine advertising this past April, prompting lots of pharma firms to just say no to Google promos. Meanwhile, pharma marketers have been wanting to practice their craft on Facebook and Twitter and other up-and-coming online venues, but absent any FDA guidance, why take the risk?
So when FDA announced it would solicit ideas from the industry and other interested parties, a great outcry was heard in the land. Besides the many who signed up to attend the hearings, a whole host of folks volunteered to speak. Including drugmakers such as Sanofi-Aventis, of course, but also vested-interest types like Google.
We'll keep an eye out for the avalanche of ideas that's sure to come out of that Washington-area ballroom. Already, PhRMA pitched the idea of a universal drug safety logo for online ads, clickable to safety info from FDA or someone else. Sanofi regulatory affairs VP Craig Audet suggests that TV-ad rules could serve as a springboard for Internet-ad regulations.