Monday, June 23, 2014
Prescription Drug Companies May Find It Hard to Tweet
If it sounds like an impossible task that’s because it is. Practically every drug on the market has a booklet of side effects that accompanies the medication. The new guideline is aimed at pharmaceutical companies that use Twitter, a social media platform which only allows users to publish 140 characters at a time.
The standard pamphlet for the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, made by Pfizer, lists nine potentially serious side effects. It has nine potentially dangerous interactions with other medications, as well as at least 14 health conditions for which its use is not recommended. How could you fit all that into 140 characters?
“They wouldn’t be able to do it,” said Thomas Sullivan, editor of the Policy and Medicine blog for Rockpointe, a Maryland-based medical education company. “You’re not fitting that into 140 characters.” He added, “The FDA isn’t necessarily up on the realities of social media.”
The FDA may not be up on realities, but understanding the intricacies of Twitter may not be their goal. Making it impossible for drug companies to use social media to paint unrealistic pictures of the drugs may be what’s happening here; if your drug has more than 140 characters of problems, then Twitter may not be right for you.
The guidelines, if approved, would go into effect in 90 days.