The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is meeting with pharmaceutical representatives in Washington, D.C. to discuss how it should handle online drug ads shown on the Internet.
As the pharmaceutical industry continues to walk a fine line in the Web 2.0 world, drug ads remains a touchy topic — doctors and consumer groups often criticize drug makers of using ads to help influence prescribing habits of patients.
Direct Marketing Association anticipates drug advertising will increase to $1.7 billion in 2012, up from $1 billion USD in 2008.
The FDA has been uncertain how to handle Internet advertisements, and previously warned 14 pharmaceutical companies in April regarding possible misleading Internet ads. Specifically, biotech companies are forced to list side effects of the drugs during TV commercials — something not required by online ads at the moment.
An Internet user who comes across an online ad will not become aware of a drug’s side effects, which is unfair to the consumer.
During the meeting, the FDA was told by advertising experts and pharmaceutical reps that the agency simply cannot expect all drug ads shown online to show all health risks — and the FDA needs to be very careful if it does intend to try and regulate online drug ads.