This week, Eye on FDA, a blog that critiques the regulatory side of the US Food and Drug Administration, counted 44 pharmaceutical and medical product companies operating 200 Twitter handles, with one company posting on 21 different feeds. The result reflects a growing number of pharma companies using Twitter, but also a push for diversification.
Despite the hazards of social media allowing open comment on products and profiles, pharma seems to be seeing it as an optimal way to target specific audiences. Eye on FDA calls it “niche-casting;” targeting specific audiences, such as users with particular diseases looking for the newest innovations, or professionals looking for jobs. Some companies also offer product-specific feeds for updates and advice, and feeds for promoting their philanthropic efforts. Most of the breakdown is still by geography though, with multi-national companies operating 43 percent of the collected feeds outside the United States.
In response to the growing trend, last December the FDA issued its first draft guidance on how pharma and medical device companies should behave online to avoid trouble with the agency. While this document only refers to requests for information about off-label products, the suggestions are sure to grow along with social media participation by pharma.