Facebook to drug companies: Enable comments by Aug. 15

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Facebook to drug companies: Enable comments by Aug. 15
Facebook to drug companies: Enable comments by Aug. 15
Facebook officials have told drug firms that they can no longer obstruct commenting on their pages.

“Facebook will no longer allow admins of new pharma pages to disable commenting on the content their page shares with people on Facebook,” Facebook officials said in a May 17 email. They went on to say that “pages that currently have commenting disabled will no longer have this entitlement after Aug. 15th. Subject to Facebook's approval, branded pages solely dedicated to a prescription drug may (continue to) have commenting functionality removed.”

The policy change, said Facebook, “encourages an authentic dialogue between people and business on Facebook.”

That means pharmas can no longer disable comments on non-brand-specific pages. The shift appears to create regulatory headaches for drug makers. For example, it's unclear if drug companies will face sanctions if they fail to notify the Food and Drug Administration of side-effect complaints. Pharmas can still prevent posting from external sources on their pages, but they'll have to allow — and monitor closely — comments on their own posts.

The change comes as long-awaited and twice-delayed FDA guidance on the use of the Internet and social media for pharma promotion seems to have been shelved indefinitely, pending further studies on consumer web advertising.

“FDA has never even said whether pharmas can have a Facebook page and now Facebook is saying you have to play by our rules,” says Wendy Blackburn, EVP at InTouch Solutions. She said allowing comments and discussion of off-label uses could bring the wrath of the FDA.

“It's a lot to manage,” she said. “I think some companies that haven't fully embraced Facebook, it'll be easy for them to say ‘never mind.' But for those that have seen the benefit of it ... they'll find a way to make it work.”

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