Pharmaceuticals decry FDA's social media rules

Pharmaceutical companies say the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) new social media rules would have a "chilling" effect on the industry and leave consumers in the dark.

The FDA in June released draft guidelines for how drug firms should use social networks like Facebook and Twitter. But pharmaceutical companies are concerned the FDA would hold them responsible for misinformation about their products posted online by third parties that the companies have little to no control over.

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They say the rules would discourage them from interacting on social networks, leaving consumers without useful information about their products.

"Given the extraordinary growth of the Internet as a source of health information — and the enormous amount of inaccurate and non-regulated information about medical products online — FDA should avoid chilling manufacturers' responsible communication of medical information about their products," the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) wrote in comments to the FDA released this week.

PhRMA urged the FDA to "hold manufacturers accountable for online and social media content only to the extend the content was developed or posted by or on behalf of the manufacturer."

As it is currently written, the draft guidelines would result in "more inaccurate information about medicines online that will go uncorrected," the group wrote.

Other pharmaceutical groups like the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Medical Information Working Group also raised concerns about the FDA's guidelines, calling the rules "overbroad."

"It is impracticable in the Internet and social media context, where interactive communications are the norm and [user generated content] is unpredictable," the Medical Information Working Group wrote.

The comment period on the FDA's draft guidance closed last week.