It is a common known fact that social media has completely dominated our society. Everyone who is anyone has some type of account from grandparents to newborn babies to the family pet! With that type of exposure Missouri Congressman Billy Long thought it was time the FDA allow pharma companies to join the ranks of those who should share information via social media. This comes after the FDA released new social media guidance to Pharma early last year that raised quite a few questions and concerns by pharma companies and manufacturers in reference to their ability to manage pharmacovigilance effectively. Long introduced H.R. 2479, a bill that would force the FDA to allow pharma companies including manufacturers to share more information about its products online through these outlets. Long notes that it is first instinct nowadays to search online when information is needed on a particular topic, medical information is one of the top inquiries internet goers pursue. Aside from everyone trying to self-diagnose, patients want to be informed and know that they have the capability to conduct their own research when faced with questions.

One of the complaints raised about the use of social media outlets, like Twitter for example, is the limitation of characters (140) allowed per post. The FDA requires that companies stipulate full details on risks and benefits in any brand-oriented communication. This character limit restricts the ability to fully inform the reader. The bill that Long is proposing will allow the use of hyperlinks for this purpose. The idea is that patients will have immediate access to the information they need and want most on the forums they access most frequently. But ease of use and accessibility of information is not the FDA’s biggest concern, they are concerned that pharma companies will not be able to share full details surrounding their products which will ultimately lead to less informed decision making rather than the opposite. Unfortunately the FDA’s own use of social media for the same purpose does not exactly provide much support for their arguments on the cause.

Of course with any political manner there are those in favor and those opposed to it. At this point enthusiasts are confident that the bill will pass, with pharma companies and medical professionals supporting it. Pharma companies believe that previously released FDA guidance, basically stating not to use Twitter goes beyond protecting patients basic rights to information and this bill is a step in a better direction, in their opinions. I for one am interested in seeing the impact this bill has, if passed, on Pharma marketing and communications within Big Pharma.
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Jennifer Ulrich

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