D-Day for Pharma and Facebook

It is another one of those questions – how did we get here?  For months FDA’s DDMAC did not seem to understand the impact of social media, then asked for help understanding how to regulate it, then failed to produce any guidance on a timely basis.

As many have been discussing, today is the day that Facebook will begin a new policy whereby companies will not have the option to block commentary on a Facebook page. This weekend, the Washington Post ran a piece on the subject, quoting several pharmaceutical companies who have pulled back their pages in light of the new policy.

That may not seem like a big deal to many people.  However, significant numbers of people were fans of these pages – providing a basis for people to feel connected and where they can get reliable information and resources for an array of conditions.  In the article, many referred the inaction by FDA’s DDMAC to produce any guidance despite months of trying and a  spokesperson was quoted as saying that the agency remains committed to the notion but has limited resources and increasing workloads.

Some companies are braving it out.  After all, social media includes “social” and how different is running a Facebook page from any other form of media in which people can ask a question.  What is the risk/benefit equation here?  Personally, I’m not sure I perceive tremendous risk, but until there is increased experience now that the page has turned, that remains to be seen.

Today I spoke with one company who is pioneering in this new era and bring you a podcast with Stacy Burch, Director of Corporate Reputation and Digital Communications at Sanofi-aventis in the U.S.  I asked her why they were staying and what went into their decision. Here’s what she had to say:

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3 Responses to D-Day for Pharma and Facebook

  1. Phil Baumann says:

    There’s a larger issue here:

    Eventually companies are going to realize that Facebook was a trap.

    Stacy is absolutely right that patient safety has to come first.

    Social media are generally already tenuous materials – and the communities they can spur don’t always last. And it’s getting increasingly hard to sustain communities given the rise of attention obesity.

    Patient and provider community aside, ultimately social media needs to deliver some kind of revenue funnel.

    In my opinion, there’s an increasing emphasis on getting Likes and RTs than in getting sales.

    These media weren’t built for any particular industry – except the military and research industries.

    Trying to squeeze going concerns into media over which companies have no control is going to cause all sorts of problems.

    What’s happening today on Facebook exemplifies this perfectly.

  2. Thank you Sanofi for sticking it through by careful monitoring and calculated execution. Thank you for not taking the easy way out to just take down your sites. I hope in the long run that companies like Sanofi will pave the way for biotech/pharma marketers to leverage social medial outlets in a meaningful, productive way that is good for business and safe for patients.

  3. Pingback: For Pharma, FDA Is Elephant in Facebook Comment Room - USEFUL PORTAL – USEFUL PORTAL