Pharma Digital Marketing Faces FDA Scrutiny on Social Media

Companies pursuing digital marketing strategies for their pharmaceutical products might want to exercise some additional caution. By now, companies are well aware that the Food and Drug Administration scrutinizes the drug claims companies make on their websites. But the regulator is also paying attention to pharma posts on social media. Recently, the FDA issued warning letters to six companies for inappropriate marketing claims they made using Facebook.

“FDA’s letters provide evidence that the agency cares just as much about what a company says on its social media channel as on its website,” Regulatory Focus says.

In the warnings, the FDA said that the companies were making claims that were not approved by the agency, Regulatory Focus explains. The inappropriate posts are not one time infractions. For one company, the FDA cites eight instances of inappropriate marketing in the span of 15 months. The FDA’s scrutiny is not limited to reading Facebook posts. In one instance, the agency cited a company for making inappropriate claims in the “about” section of the company’s Facebook page.

The FDA last year released proposed guidelines regarding how companies can discuss their products on social media. Those preliminary guidelines, which state that companies must disclose both risks and benefits, all but eliminate the use of Twitter because of that site’s 140 character limit. That restriction might be sending pharma companies to Facebook, where they have more space list more drug information and talk about their products. Facebook is also a natural channel to reach patients because it is the largest of the social networks. But companies still must be cautious about how they use this channel. Social media offers new opportunities to communicate with patients in a post. But be aware that the FDA is reading those posts, too.

Get hands-on expertise on the state of social media within the healthcare landscape. Join us at 6th Digital Pharma West, taking place in San Francisco, CA in the United States on June 1-3, 2015 to:

  • Understand exactly where we stand with the FDA draft guidelines
  • Decipher what is important in privacy and security in successful social listening
  • Analyze case study experience on how a pharma company used a branded social presence to deepen patient engagement and affinity
  • Break down new FDA guidance and how MLR/compliance/legal/marketing teams can work better with regulators and each other


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