Facebook Forcing Drug Companies to Allow Pill TalkS

Corporations love Facebook, because it's free advertising. Simple! But when you're a company that sells a product that changes the brains of your customers, you might be worried when they start to chat online. Facebook says: tough shit.

Up until now, the Washington Post reports, pharmaceutical firms were given a rare exception on Facebook: they didn't have to offer a wall. And why wouldn't they want a wall? They're afraid of their own product:

The industry "nightmare" is processing of adverse event reports (AERs), said Joe Farris, co-founder of the Digital Health Coalition, a nonprofit group focused on online marketing of health-care products. Users might write on a company's Wall about a specific product causing an unexpected reaction or injury. That information could qualify as an AER, and it must then be filed with the Food and Drug Administration, which uses the reports to monitor product safety.

But not anymore—they're being forced to open up. Talking about fun ways to get high with pills is also a concern, of course, but dodging legitimate AERs is a little ominous. Facebook pages don't just allow helpful discussion among people with similar afflictions, but could act as a check against less-than-exhaustive FDA testing. Which is a good thing for everyone other than pharmaceutical shareholders.

Companies like Pfizer are extremely upfront about their paranoia, and warn you of comment deletion as soon as you land on their FB page. The top two reasons for pulling comments, they say?

Your comment references a Product (ours or someone else's)
Your comment references a Side Effect

Maybe I just haven't taken my effective Pfizer product of choice today, but can anyone else think of a reason why you'd go to Pfizer's Facebook discussion page if not to talk about one of Pfizer's products? What else is it there for? Fantasy football strategy? Anime debates? It's silly to provide patients with a tool, and at the same time neuter that tool. They might as well just take the pages down entirely. [WaPo]

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