Food and Drug Administration officials should move “carefully” yet decisively in developing rules governing pharmaceutical and medical-device companies' digital and social-media marketing of products, the Center for Digital Democracy said in a letter sent today to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.
In its correspondence, the consumer-interest group said that while it commends the FDA for conducting an inquiry into social-media and digital marketing of drugs, it wanted to “discuss” several concerns about the practice. The center recommended several issues that the FDA should consider when crafting its forthcoming rules for digital marketing of medical products. They include restricting drug and medical-device companies from using space-limited tools such as texting to market products because they limit ability to disclose safety and side-effects information; preventing companies from using online behavior-tracking technology to mine data on customers; and requiring disclosure of relationships between manufacturers and health-information portals.
The Center for Digital Democracy also urged the FDA to work with the Federal Trade Commission in developing its forthcoming guidelines. The FTC is expected to release a report on online consumer privacy issues this summer.
The Center for Digital Democracy is a not-for-profit group that advocates for consumer-interest issues related to digital technology use.