PhRMA, Lilly and AbbVie Weigh FDA Plan to Study Twitter Drug Ads

Posted 30 January 2017 | By Zachary Brennan 

PhRMA, Lilly and AbbVie Weigh FDA Plan to Study Twitter Drug Ads

When the space of characters is limited, can a link to risk information be enough for drugmakers advertising their products on social media like Twitter? That’s the question the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked last November and now industry is offering their opinions on the planned studies.

As part of its planned study, FDA said on 7 November that it plans to conduct four studies, two involving Twitter and two using Google sponsored links, to determine how well participants understand and retain risk information depending on whether the information is contained within the communication or merely linked to.

Industry group PhRMA said in its comment from earlier this month that its long-held position is that FDA’s own use of character-space-limited platforms should set the standard for appropriate use of these media. The group points to FDA’s use of links when announcing new drug approvals, adding, “As a matter of fundamental fairness, logic, and First Amendment law, companies should be able to utilize character-space-limited platforms in an identical manner.”

Among other research PhRMA suggests FDA explore is a study of how consumers have responded to FDA’s use of Twitter to announce new drug approvals.

Eli Lilly says that in general, FDA’s proposal for research “seems reasonable” though it offers several ways FDA could reduce potential bias and respondent confusion, such as by not using unrealistic or highly simplified precaution or risk statements.

AbbVie, meanwhile, calls on FDA to look into “a variety of more realistic” formats for such ads, including through the use of GIFs on Twitter and other engaging video or visuals.

“The rise of Internet communications that have character space limitations, such as sponsored link promotion and microblog messaging, has led to questions about how to use these communications for prescription drug promotion while complying with the fair balance requirements,” AbbVie added.

Character-Space-Limited Online Prescription Drug Communications

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