Attending day 2 of the FDA's Part 15 meeting on social media and the promotion of medical products, one has to ponder a question not on the agenda. Has the FDA given up on their big transparency initiative?
The question comes up because, as many of you may have seen on the NPR blog yesterday, there was a picture of me sitting on the floor outside "The Bunker" – the National Transportation Safety Board Room where the meeting is being held, only so that I could get access to a signal so that I could blog and tweet. The floor is cold, man. But that floor is about as much accomodation made by the FDA for any media for this meeting.
Over the past few days, I heard at least two top-tier reporters expressing frustration that there was no media support or accomodation. One could not get a camera crew here. One wire reporter was turned away for not registering.
Ironically, FDA's DDMAC has often stated during these proceedings that there is an intense amount of interest in these proceedings. But you wouldn't know it if you used media presence as a yardstick. They aren't really here and they weren't really invited.
Looking about the room, there is a room set up in the back for speakers. There is another set aside for government officials. It would appear they didn't want to sit with us muckety muck. There is no media room. There is no WiFi. There is no media support whatsoever.
And oh, when I asked Tom Abrams of DDMAC yesterday if he'd give me two minutes on the FlipCam to talk about what the FDA would do after these two days, he said no. He said the FDA was here to listen, not talk. So I guess for those of us wanting to know the FDA's and DDMAC's next steps, well, we'll just have to be in the dark.
That, it would seem, does put a dent in transparency. Or at least turns out the lights.