FDA proposes social media guidelines for medical products

The Food and Drug Administration proposed social media and Internet guidelines for pharmaceutical and medical products on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON: The Food and Drug Administration proposed social media and Internet guidelines for pharmaceutical and medical products on Tuesday.

The draft guidelines, which include recommendations for correcting misinformation posted online, could restrict how companies promote products on platforms with character limitations, such as Twitter, or in sponsored links on Google or Yahoo.

The new guidance, intended for prescription drugs and medical devices, will be open to public comment for 90 days.

Guidelines were drafted "with patients in mind," wrote Thomas Abrams, director for the FDA’s office of prescription drug promotion, in the agency’s blog.

"We understand that communicating on electronic Internet sites with character space limitations can be challenging. But, no matter the Internet source used, benefit claims in product promotions should be balanced with risk information," he added in the post.

According to the proposed guidelines, companies would have to present the benefits and risks of a product in its promotions, and risk information may be "precise" as long as it links to more detailed information elsewhere.

Companies may choose to correct misinformation online posted by an "independent third party who is not under the firm’s control or influence," according to Abrams’ blog.

The blog adds that companies "should address all misinformation in a clearly defined portion of a forum on the Internet or social media, whether the misinformation is positive or negative."

Abrams writes that the FDA is "very interested in receiving comments from stakeholders," and "sees social media as an important resource for industry and is committed to developing additional guidance for drug and device manufacturers that outline the agency’s current thinking."

Representatives from the FDA deferred to the agency’s blog post when asked further questions about the proposed guidelines.

The FDA sent a couple of tweets about the draft guidance on Tuesday:

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