Time to challenge “fair balance” use ?

FTCJust how clueless is the FDA when it comes to how consumers are using the web for health information ?  Well the FDA still hasn’t issued social media guidelines, it’s only 3 years late, and consumers have pretty much moved on and are using the web in record numbers for health information.  I have always felt that the requirement for fair balance in search and social media is dumb.  Nobody is going to see a search result or Tweet and ask for an Rx without learning more about the prescription drug and the safety pages on drug websites are still among the most viewed pages.  Time to take the FTC recommendations and go back to the one-click rule (fair balance always one click away).

According to the FTC “when a space-constrained ad requires a disclosure, incorporate the disclosure into the ad whenever possible. However, when it is not possible to make a disclosure in a space-constrained ad, it may, under some circumstances, be acceptable to make the disclosure clearly and conspicuously on the page to which the ad links.”  In other words the one-click rule can apply to the promotion of pharma products but only if the FDA agrees with the FTC.

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Why should the FDA agree with the FTC ?

(1) Consumers are not going to decide to ask for or take a prescription drug without doing more research or asking their doctor.

(2) It would open up social media for DTC advertising and increase awareness of new medications and health conditions.

(3) It would allow drug companies to really leverage search marketing the way it’s supposed to be used and can benefit consumers.

In other words it’s just common sense but today in government there is very little common sense.

In the FDA’s defense they have been the victim of changing priorities, budgets cuts and media scrutiny but with DTC marketing down 22% in 2012 it’s time to either reinforce that DTC marketing is providing a value to consumers and the drug industry or continue to handcuff DTC marketers until DTC marketing is irrelevant.