School of Media and Journalism, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
This commentary explores the implications of increased social media marketing by drug manufacturers, based on findings in Hyosun Kim’s article of the major themes in recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letters and notices of violation regarding online direct-to-consumer promotions of pharmaceuticals. Kim’s rigorous analysis of FDA letters over a 10-year span highlights a relative abundance of regulatory action toward marketer-controlled websites and sponsored advertisements, compared to branded and unbranded social media messaging. However, social media marketing efforts are increasing, as is FDA attention to these efforts. This commentary explores recent developments and continuing challenges in the FDA’s attempts to provide guidance and define pharmaceutical company accountability in marketer-controlled and -uncontrolled claims disseminated through social media.
Liang BA, Mackey TK. Prevalence and global health implications of social media in direct-to-consumer drug advertising. J Med Internet Res. 2011;13(3):e64. doi:10.2196/jmir.1775
Kim H. Trouble spots in online direct-to-consumer prescription drug promotion: a content analysis of FDA warning letters. Int J Health Policy Manag. 2015;4(12):813-821. doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2015.157
Fisherow WB. Shape of prescription drug advertising: a survey of promotional techniques and regulatory trends. Food Drug Cosmetic Law Journal. 1987;42:213-236.
Robinson AR, Hohmann KB, Rifkin JI, et al. Direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising: physician and public opinion and potential effects on the physician-patient relationship. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(4):427-432. doi:10.1001/archinte.164.4.427
Huh J, Delorme DE, Reid LN. The third-person effect and its influence on behavioral outcomes in a product advertising context: the case of direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising. Comm Res. 2004;31(5):568-599. doi:10.1177/0093650204267934
Burgess C, Carroll BM. Social Media Law & Policy Report;2015.