The Scientist has a piece about “asthma” becoming your friend on facebook.
It reminded me about an Australian Prescriber that has been sitting in “to post” box. Melissa Sweet (who also does Croakey) wrote about how Pharma is/can capitalise on new digital media.
The big issue with the internet and health marketing is lack of regulation. I mentioned in my previous post how marketing drugs is *very serious business* – encouraging the innapropriate drugs and treatments can hurt and kill people (that’s why we hate CAM, but that’s a story for another day).
While in Australia, it’s illegal to promote prescription products to patients and consumers, there aren’t such laws in the USA – so Pharma just needs to put information on their US website. They can’t be blamed if someone googles their options, can they?
It’s also sometimes difficult to work out where drug information is actually coming from. Melissa points in particular to a youtube account that has been accused of being a sock-puppet for a sleeping pill manufacturer.
Making it more difficult can be outdated guidelines that have yet to address modern internet communication tools (namely social media like facebook/myspace/twitter) – hopefully the 16th MA Code will expand on what is and isn’t permitted.