Why is the FDA Hiding from Social Media?

The FDA and several other government organizations have announced releasing new databases next year but are keeping mum in the meantime. If the FDA is in fact here to protect consumers then why are they on radio silence for the next few months? Are they too busy making sure our food is safe?

The FDA and several other government organizations have announced releasing new databases next year but are keeping mum in the meantime. Already for 2010 there have been increased issues and recalls which some have blamed on lack of resources and others on the confusion between USDA and FDA jurisdictions. Why you should care as the consumer is because the aspirin you are taking or eggs you are eating could easily be tainted or spoiled but given current structure it might be up to the USDA or FDA to monitor and chances are neither have the time or resources for enforcement. Even if a consumer posts something online to warn others “hey, my eggs are spoiled” it is difficult, almost impossible, to get accurate information about what you are consuming. The consumer world online is scattered.

While new procedures and databases are put in place, the silence from the FDA is more than awkard, its creating a burden for pharmaceutical companies who are wondering what they can and cannot do with social media. TV ads for years have had restrictions in place which is why in commercials we hear “Side affects include: xx, xx, xxx” and even searching for Viagra on Facebook there are several pages in honor of the drug and hard to tell which is official.

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So why haven’t the first of social media regulations been hinted at or exposed to give companies the chance to prepare?

Companies are hesitant to tweet and put more investment in Facebook presence until regulations are released, so instead social media outlets become flooded with spam or unauthorized vendors (like one pictured above). No formal guidance from the FDA will be released sooner than Q1 2011 which could mean until end of March of next year. InfoMedics CEO Gene Guselli assessed the FDA stating:

“There is some false hope in waiting for the FDA to tell pharma companies how to engage in the digital age…Companies that are waitng around for social media guidance are leaving dollars on the table.”

InfoMedics assists pharmaceutical companies in marketing and implementing different patient feedback programs. They help get important information from those consuming medicine to those distributing it.

Right now the biggest question in consumer web is: if the FDA is in fact here to protect consumers then why are they on radio silence for the next few months? Are they too busy making sure our food is safe? Considering there were over 23 major food recalls this month, they should be busy with something.