The pharmaceutical industry is glued on the FDA hearings on social media happening in the US. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a government agency of the US Department of Health & Human Sciences and acts as the main regulator of US market for drugs, worth $275 billion-a-year.

The hearings are designed to poll expert opinion from a wide range of experts on five key areas:

  • For what online communications are manufacturers, packers or distributors accountable?
  • How can manufacturers, packers or distributors fulfill regulatory requirements in their Internet and social media promotion, particularly when using tools that are associated with space limitations and tools that allow for real-time communications?
  • What parameters should apply to the posting of corrective information on Web sites controlled by third parties?
  • When is the use of links appropriate?
  • How should adverse event reporting be addressed online?

From a web advertising perspective Google and Yahoo! have lobbied for a less restrictive online advertising environment and have started to experiment with new formats of ads to better address the regulatory needs of the US pharmaceutical marketplace.

Google has developed a presentation on its proposed healthcare ad format.

It will be a while before definitive outcomes emerge from these hearings, but the US is taking the lead in considering these issues from a regulatory perspective and it would be great if bodies like the ABPI took a similar approach to dealing with social media issues in the UK.

US-based agencies will develop a valuable advantage through gaining experience in a market that is ahead of the UK in a regulated approach to social media for healthcare clients. You can keep up to date with current developments at these hearings by following the Twitter hashtag #FDASM.