By Earl Whipple
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has recently announced they’ll be holding a public forum to discuss the role of the Internet and social media tools to promote medical products. We applaud this decision. After all, the online world is evolving every day and we must all work together to harness its power in sharing timely and trustworthy health news.
Some people might wonder why the FDA would take these steps. Why can’t we just use the guidelines that pharmaceutical companies have been following for years? Well, that’s the problem. The guidelines were established years ago. Television and print were the main conduits of information and they didn’t offer the levels of interactivity we enjoy with the Internet.
This hearing, which is to be held November 12 and 13 in Washington, D.C., will touch on five key topics:
1) The extent to which manufacturers are accountable for product information online
2) How fair balance information should be presented in light of space limitations
3) The parameters for correcting inaccurate product information
4) The use of links
5) The reporting of adverse events
This forum is just a first step. But it’s an important one and it shows the agency’s attention to this changing medium. What do you think about this issue? Do you think they need to re-invent the wheel, or can current regulations and guidelines be slightly tweaked and adapted to work in our online world?