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Regulatory Focus™ > News Articles > 2020 > 1 > FDA to Study Perceptions of Instagram Influencers and Their Disclosures

FDA to Study Perceptions of Instagram Influencers and Their Disclosures

Posted 27 January 2020 | By Zachary Brennan 

FDA to Study Perceptions of Instagram Influencers and Their Disclosures

The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) on Monday said that it’s working on two studies, one of which will focus on Instagram influencers and how people perceive what they say.

The research is part of OPDP’s work to better understand if the presence of a disclosure of a payment status influences participant reactions. Many of the top celebrities and models on Instagram often post a photograph with sponsored clothing or medicines, which they sometimes tag as an ad.

Back in 2015, Kim Kardashian famously received a warning letter from FDA for promoting the morning sickness drug Diclegis (doxylamine/pyridoxine) on Instagram without a disclosure that it was a paid advertisement and without the proper risk information.

For FDA’s Instagram study, the agency says it will manipulate the explicitness of the disclosure so it will be direct (e.g., “Paid ad…”), indirect (e.g., #sp for “sponsored”) or absent. The study will recruit 698 (266 pretest; 432 main study) followers of an internet influencer who maintains an Instagram page with more than 500,000 followers and has posted about endometriosis.

And although FDA says it is not revealing the influencer’s identity to maintain the integrity of the study, model and designer Alexa Chung, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi and singer Halsey all have more than 500,000 followers and have each opened up about their endometriosis on Instagram.

But the study will look at an Instagram post for a fictitious endometriosis product and gauge perceived benefits and risks, attitudes toward the product, endorser and ad, as well as behavioral intentions such as asking a doctor about the drug.

The other study will look at a print direct-to-consumer (DTC) ad for a fictitious acne product and investigate the effects of endorser type (celebrity, physician or patient) and payment disclosure (whether present or absent).

For this study, OPDP says it will recruit 654 general population individuals (249 pretest; 405 main study) from a national nonprobability internet panel called Dynata, formerly ResearchNow.

All participants must report familiarity with the celebrity, who will have publicly spoken out about acne (many have publicly spoken out). Stock photos will be used to depict a physician and a patient, and participants will be randomly assigned to see one of the endorsers and to see the ad either with or without a payment disclosure.

This study will also assess the role of endorsement and payment status on participants’ recall, benefit and risk perceptions and behavioral intentions.

Federal Register


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