Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Drug Firms Unhappy With Facebook Rule Change

Facebook has declared that drug companies must play by the same rules as the other millions of its subscribers, and this has led the firms to take a very unusual action where the popular social networking site is concerned--hitting the "escape" key. What has the drug companies troubled is Facebook's declaration that they will no longer have the privilege of closing their Facebook "walls" to comments from the public, reported the Washington Post on August 14. The firms are worried that people will post information about the side effects they experienced on a particular medication or write other comments critical of a product. If a company learns of a side-effect posting, it may be required to report that to the Food and Drug Administration, which will use it monitor the drug's safety. As of last Sunday, Seroquel manufacturer AstraZeneca had shut down a Facebook page on depression, and Johnson & Johnson planned to shut down four of its pages. A Pfizer spokesperson said the world's largest drug firm will keep its pages open for the time being, but closely monitor the activity on them.

Drug companies' use of Facebook is just one example of how social media have reshaped the medical and health landscape in the last few years. Physicians have also joined the social-media revolution, and not always with the desired results. To read much more about psychiatrists' use of social media, see Psychiatric News at http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/11/12.full and http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/45/11/5.1.full.

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