Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Drugs, Tweets, and Responsibility

The Food and Drug Adminiistration (FDA) requires pharmaceutical firms to make sure that when drugs are "promoted" to the public "statements stick to approved uses for drugs only and maintain a “fair balance” of information about their risks and benefits." The actual rules about this can get complex in today's world, where there are so many ways that people can learn about medicines.

"For example, the 'social' part of social media means that third parties — bloggers, commenters, Twitter users — are also part of the message. (Kanye West tweeted this summer that 'clothes are my drug,' but what if he’d instead said that Lipitor was his drug? Should the FDA pay any attention to that? What if he or another celebrity were paid for the tweet?"

Two Boston physicians recently suggested that "To maintain a fair balance of benefit and risk information, the FDA might 'try to ban pharmaceutical promotion entirely from these media.'"

From: Katherine Hobson, "Who’s Responsible for Tweets About a Drug," Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2010.

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