Drug Companies Face Social-Media Risks

Drug Companies Face Social-Media Risks

Drug companies that maintain a social-media presence risk significant fines if they run afoul of Food and Drug Administration rules regarding drug ads. For instance, companies aren't allowed to tout benefits of particular drugs without also disclosing the potential side effects. But consumers who make comments on social-media pages might talk about particular drugs in ways that the companies themselves aren't allowed to.

Given those pitfalls, some drug companies scaled back their social-media efforts in the last two years. “We're highly risk averse,” said Trish Nettleship, UCB's director of social media and influence, referring to the pharma industry. She adds that the risks are “multi-million dollar fines,” and not a few days of bad public relations. Still, she says her company decided to keep a Facebook page, and enable comments, in order to build awareness for partial-onset epilepsy.

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