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Drug Companies Lose Special Protection On Facebook 181

Posted by timothy
from the now-available-in-rectal-suppositories dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Christian Torres writes that Facebook and the pharmaceutical industry have had an uneasy partnership in recent years and many drug companies didn't join the site until Facebook gave them a privilege that others do not have — blocking the public's ability to openly comment on a page Wall. But that's about to change when, starting Monday, most drug company pages will have to have open Walls. 'We think these policy changes support consistency for the Facebook Pages product and encourage an authentic dialogue between people and businesses on Facebook,' wrote Facebook in an email. AstraZeneca, which sells the antidepressant Seroquel, already shut down a page devoted to depression, Johnson & Johnson says it will close four of its pages, and other companies say they will monitor their pages more closely once the changes take effect. The industry is concerned that users might write about bad side effects, promote off-label use or make inappropriate statements about a product, and that the comments could raise concerns from government regulators."
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Drug Companies Lose Special Protection On Facebook

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Monday August 15, 2011 @08:18AM (#37092902) Journal

    Christian Torres writes that Facebook and the pharmaceutical industry have had an uneasy partnership in recent years and many drug companies didn't join the site until Facebook gave them a privilege that others do not have — blocking the public's ability to openly comment on a page Wall.

    Uh, so whoever did the investigative journalism for this piece needs to go back to Webelos and get their fact checking merit badge. All walls can be restricted to only posts by the owner of the wall on Facebook. In fact, it is so uncommon for the wall to be open to fan postings that I had to turn to Mystery Science Theater 3000 [facebook.com] for an example of open posting. Take the current DVD distributor for MST3K, Shout Factory [facebook.com] as an example of a non-pharmaceutical company restricting me from complaining about the packaging on some of their DVD sets openly on their wall.

    Every company does it, it's not "special protection." I'm happy that big pharma is losing this option but frankly I'm wondering why anyone is allowed to open up a wall and the suppress public comments on their products. They should be proud of their products and they should engage their customers openly. You can block individual trolls but I'm shocked that their concern isn't bad publicity for their products from a few outliers but instead concern from government regulators! What? If you're giving them all your information about your drug's potential side effects, there shouldn't be any concern!

    So looking at the drug they listed, Seroquel [facebook.com] I see the user comments being actually very helpful. People talking about it losing its potency, people talking about switching on or off XR for better results. I'm sure that these comments have been weeded by some corporate automaton but, come on, these are customers helping other customers!

    You know what happens when you don't put up a main page for a product? Tons and tons of hate pages [facebook.com]. Government regulators don't notice these?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2011 @09:06AM (#37093294)

    Having provided marketing support to a pharmaceutical company, bad publicity is not the main fear. Most prescription drugs these days don't actually "cure" anything. Seroquel does not "cure"depression, it treats symptoms. The pharmaceutical companies and the FDA regulators are both acutely aware of this. All of their marketing materials go through legal review to avoid using words like "cure." Having a post from John Q Public stating that "Thanks Seroquel, this cured my depression" on Seroquel's "Official Facebook Page" would be a significant legal problem.

    Facebook also shared in the concern that legal liability could fall on them. Excerpts of people's medical histories would be posted. In the United States, HIPAA governs "how" medical information may be stored by third parties. Facebook would risk having to modify their infrastructure to maintain compliance.

    Whether you believe "Big corporations" are malevolent or not, them taking preemptive measures to stay within HIPAA is a "Good thing."

  • by Aeiri (713218) on Monday August 15, 2011 @09:19AM (#37093436)
    Seroquel is NOT an antidepressant, and doctors need to stop prescribing it as if it were. Seroquel is an atypical antipsychotic, used to treat psychosis.

    All of the current atypical antipsychotics have the WORST side effects imaginable (more so than antidepressants), so they need to start using them as they are designed to be used. For instance, I was on Seroquel for 1 month, and the person that took me off of it was the ER doctor that I was taken to after collapsing for no real reason.

    These doctors need to stop messing around with serious medication. In my case, it was necessary, in most other cases, FFS use something else.

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