Here at WCG, we’ve long been advocates for the idea that biopharma companies should not wait around for the Food and Drug Administration to codify super-precise social media rules before using new technologies. While there are some specific points of clarification that the agency would vastly simplify our lives, there is no question that a convention wisdom has emerged that points to a safe way to engage on social media.
But it’s one thing to talk about “a conventional wisdom,” and quite another to specifically detail an emerging set of best practices. We have created our own set of next practices (contact us to learn more), but — increasingly — the areas of consensus are becoming publicly outlined with more precision.
One of the notable attempts is coming out of the Digital Health Coalition, a non-profit that counts industry, patients, docs, tech companies and others among its membership. Earlier this month, they outlined seven “Guiding Principles” for how regulated health care companies should approach social media.
None of the seven principles are particularly edgy: They call for companies to be transparent and forthcoming with information and they note the importance of reporting adverse events and correcting misinformation. They make clear that companies shouldn’t be responsible for information they didn’t create or control, and they encourage a patient-centric approach to online. But the lack of an edge is exactly the point. This defines the common-sense approach to online social media use by biopharma.
The “Guiding Principles” are not a detailed road map. At fewer than 225 words, the document is a 30,000-foot view at best. But it gives everyone — including, I hope, the FDA — a starting point to build from. There’s no question that biopharma is behind when it comes to digital, but the industry pioneers have closed the gap quickly. And with more attention and more collaboration, the digital revolution will only pick up more steam, FDA or no FDA.