If the FDA Has Its Way, Drug Companies Could Soon Tweet Side Effects

Realizing that social media isn't a passing fad, the Food and Drug Administration has finally laid out its highly anticipated guidelines for how drug companies should act on the Internet.

The Wall Street Journal reports the agency has laid out tentative regulations, including a proposed rule that if a drug's side effects and other information can't be relayed in a single tweet, firms should "reconsider using Twitter for the intended promotional message." The new rules also take aim at other websites, like Wikipedia. In the draft, drug companies are allowed to edit a page if they find something wrong, however the correction "must include balanced information and the source of the revision or update must be noted."

The 18-page proposal was released late last month — nearly five years after the FDA held a public hearing about how it should regulate drug firms on the Internet. Until recently, companies have largely shied away from using social media since they were afraid of violating the FDA's promotional rules.

Although disclosure regarding the drugs that we're putting into our bodies is a good thing, the question remains of who is going to seek out a pharmaceutical's Twitter account to follow tweets that are dizzying parade of less-than-desirable side effects, like nausea or diarrhea. Bleh.

The FDA is lawfully required to finalize these rules before a July deadline rolls around. If approved, the guidelines could go into effect in 90 days.

[WSJ via The Verge]

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