Today's Tweetup on #hcsmeu was mostly dominated by the current Food and Drugs Administration public hearing on social media.
I think it is great to have this debate but it is more than simply working out how best to distribute regulated information on the internet. The role of the prescriber is important and it can be overlooked in the rush to create more e-patients. Open information about drugs and treatments is important as well as promoting digital literacies. However, those seeking the information must also be able to judge whether or not the treatment is indicated or relevant. This requires a broader perspective ... and is why they will still need to talk to their doctor. The challenge with bringing the prescriber into this arena is that there is a conflict between the openness required for effective social media and the confidentiality needed for a personalised consultation.
My summary of the views from the #hcsmeu session is:
Q1 What can EU healthcare learn from this week's FDA Social Media hearing?
FDA are right to engage in this way. It seems they may already have draft guidelines in mind.
How quickly will the FDA be able to publish? Will it already be out of date or will the advice be too general for the expectations of those advocates social media?
Will / should / could the EU follow the FDA?
Is it more about language since English speakers around the world will be able to access American pharma social media anyhow (unless censored)?
Q2 Google, Yahoo call for expanded online drug ads; good for patients?
Good for advertising revenue and possibly good for patients.
Better to have regulated pharmaceutical information than hearsay and misinformation.
This may translate into more direct promotion of disease portals in the EU where direct to customer promotion (i.e. drug name appearing with drug indication - thanks @FarmerFunster) is not allowed.