Nov 9, 2009

Countdown to FDA Social Media Hearings

The countdown to the long-awaited FDA hearings on social media has begun (copy of the most current agenda can be found here). And agencies and industry alike are all fired up to voice opinions that the benefits of engaging the power of social media far outweigh the risks.

Susannah Fox from
Pew Research recently published the compelling statement, "...consumers were not being harmed by inaccurate information. In a 2008 survey we conducted in partnership with the California HealthCare Foundation, just 3% of e-patients said they or someone they know has been harmed by following medical advice or health information found on the internet, a number that has remained stable since 2006. Meantime, 60% of e-patients (or 42% of all adults) said they or someone they know has been helped by following medical advice or health information found on the internet. That’s an increase from 2006 when 31% of e-patients (25% of all adults) said that."

Jonathan Richman from A Dose of Digital also reiterated a point from an earlier post of mine that FDA restrictions and lack of guidance
may actually be harming consumers. The statement may sound strange, but Jonathan's point is well taken, "The current rules, actually the lack of them, is making many companies reluctant to participate in discussions online. What is happening in many of these discussions is people are sharing inaccurate and sometimes dangerous medical advice with one another. Not on purpose, but that’s the net result. Pharma companies would welcome the chance to correct some of this misinformation (in an appropriate manner), but feel they can’t under the current rules."

Whether or not our voices will be heard and FDA will actually
listen
and provide updated guidance is left to be seen. One thing is for sure...the social conversation has begun.

(Special thanks to
Fabio Gratton for starting the #FDASM site, a site dedicated to all things social.)

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