Using online platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and others is a standard component of communicating with consumers in today’s business. And, it’s no different for drug and medical device manufacturers. In the life sciences industry, it’s even more critical to know how to communicate via social media, while still meeting regulatory standards. Here is some insight.
Both Sides of the Story
As recently as June 2014, the FDA issued a draft guidance asserting medical device and drug manufacturers who “choose to present benefit information should present both benefit and risk information within advertising and promotional labeling.” This extends even to the use of the Internet and associated social media.
While it is necessary to ensure consumers are able to receive all information (including its pros, cons, benefits, and possible risks) about a product, it can be difficult to convey online. This is especially true on Twitter, which only allows the use of 140 characters in a tweet. Therefore, drug and medical device manufacturers must get creative in order to still use these sites to reach out to their consumers while relaying all the necessary, relevant information. Here are a few tips.
- Use links to communicate further information while only writing what is necessary to gain a consumer’s attention. It is important that the social media post urges consumers to click the link by conveying their need to receive more vital information.
- Use multiple tweets or posts and connect them. However, it must be made clear that the tweets or posts are connected (ex. 1 of 2).
- Connect users of shorter worded platforms like Twitter to their pages on others, such as Facebook, through additional links.
It is also important that drug and medical device manufacturers stay open to questions and concerns from their consumers and other individuals in order to provide the most accurate information possible.
A Third Party?
In many cases, a misinformed third party may provide inaccurate information about a product created by a certain drug or medical device manufacturer. According to the FDA, it is not the manufacturer’s job to correct it nor will the FDA itself get involved. Still, manufacturers are encouraged to correct misinformation if they feel the need.
However, if a mistake is made in the manufacturer’s reply or the reply does not satisfy the FDA’s other regulatory standards, the FDA will not get involved as it would with misinformation directly provided by the drug or medical device manufacturer.
Being Truthful; Being Thorough
In some cases, there are less intensive regulations involved, but drug and medical device manufacturers should always strive to be as honest and as thorough as possible in the information they present.
It’s just good business.