Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Drug ads get scrutiny from the FDA

When patients are diagnosed with an illness, the Web is fast becoming the first place they look for information, treatment options and support groups.

Drug companies want to be part of that conversation. But they are wary of advertising online because of the Food and Drug Adminstration's vague rules about ad content and disclaimer information for Internet marketing. Afraid of violating those rules, most pharmaceutical makers have shied away from advertising specific products online, instead relying on traditional media such as TV and print ads, for which there are strict guidelines.

The online advertising industry says the lack of clarity around the rules is costing millions in potential ad revenue and is actually resulting in less information getting to consumers.

The FDA is hosting a two-day workshop, which concludes today, to discuss how drug companies should be allowed to advertise on Web sites, search engines and social media sites. (The Wall Street Journal and NPR both wrote stories on the workshop.)


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