Dispatch: Technology Laps Policy In Use of Social Networking For Drug Promotion

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The FDA issued a warning to Novartis Pharmaceuticals for its use of Facebook Share to promote its new leukemia drug, Tasigna, arguing that:

The shared content is misleading because it makes representations about the efficacy of Tasigna but fails to communicate any risk information associated with the use of this drug. In addition, the shared content inadequately communicates Tasigna's FDA-approved indication and implies superiority over other products.

“But where exactly is the transgression?” asks ACSH's Jeff Stier. “Is it about putting the information out there, or is this about people spreading the information through social networking? Individuals are permitted to do that under the 1st Amendment. You have to be very careful when balancing the regulations to protect free speech. An individual sharing drug information is not legally required to present the risk of side effects. This is no different from a newspaper or journal ad that touts a drug’s benefits and lists the risks in a tiny font and a consumer sharing only the benefit portion of the ad with friends.”