Nov 4, 2009

FDA Social Media Hearings -- Output Might Confuse Consumers

November 12 and 13 FDA will be holding hearings to discuss a variety of topics around online advertising and social media. One question we need to ask ourselves is that, with all good intention, could FDA actually be HARMING patients through its restrictions?

Based on the warning letters recently issued by FDA, many agencies and pharmaceutical companies pulled back on their branded campaigns -- or even paused them, out of fear of receiving a warning letter from the FDA. The result? Let's look at one example from a campaign that was paused:

  • 18% decrease in traffic from branded term, even while branded website holds #1 position in Google
  • 64% decrease in traffic from generic term, in which the branded website holds the #3 position in Google

What does this mean? Opportunity for confusion.

By pausing the branded and generic ads, it opens the opportunity for other bidders -- outside of the healthcare space. Think about it. Lawyers can bid on these keywords. Competitors can bid on these keywords. Health websites with consumer-generated or inaccurate content can and do bid on these keywords.

In essence, health seekers trying to really find solutions to their healthcare needs may actually be confused and end up at the wrong destination. By creating these restrictions FDA may have actually introduced confusion in the minds of patients and caregivers, and may very well have done a disservice to quality healthcare as we know it.

Want to know more? Follow me live at the hearings November 12 and 13 via my Twitter account at twitter/roskadigital.

And, if you would like a summary of the proceedings, email me at to receive the summary of findings from the hearings.

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