PharmExec Blog

PhRMA Calls for New Style Search Link Ads

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), on Tuesday, revealed its comments to FDA about how to handle search link ads on sites such as Google and Yahoo.

PhRMA showed off two versions of its recommended search ad, one with a universal symbol that’s easily recognizable as a link to risk information (the sample one showed the FDA symbol). The other ad includes a short-form version of the adverse event warning, such as “All drugs have risks, click here for more information.”

The two versions of the search ads also include some form of warning information on the actual ad. Pharma marketers originally thought they could have risk information provided on a separate landing page linked to the ad, but FDA shot down this “one-click rule” last year.

Social Media has become a necessary evil for pharma in the past few years. Once upon a time, news took days to spread through media channels; now someone can post an article on a blog or social network site and millions of people view it almost instantly. While some pharma companies have taken advantage of social media, creating their own networks and blogs, others are taking a wait-and-see approach toward such technology.

And with good reason. Last April, the FDA released 14 warning letters to pharma companies for improper use of search link advertising. The agency expressed the opinion that pharma companies which listed the brand name of a drug and included health information without safety information were in violation of pharmaceutical marketing regulations.

Many companies were stunned, and called for a proactive response or guidelines from the agency.

“PhRMA remains an active participant in this discussion, and our goal is to help FDA create standards that will allow truthful and accurate discussions about medicines online, by the companies that research, develop, and manufacturer them,” said Jeffrey Francer, PhRMA’s assistant general counsel.

PhRMA’s final recommendation pertained to Twitter and other microblogs that allow users to post brief statements and link to other Web sites. PhRMA thinks FDA should allow pharma companies to provide news and information about drugs on these sites, along with topics related to regulatory events.

Last November, in a massive public hearing, FDA asked for input pertaining to pharma’s use of the Internet as a promotional tool. Hundreds of speakers gave their ideas, and FDA promised to reconvene with answers later this year.

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