Earlier this week, FDA released a new draft guidance, “Fulfilling Regulatory Requirements for Postmarketing Submissions of Interactive Promotional Media for Prescription Human and Animal Drugs and Biologics“. This Guidance is a long-anticipated guidance regarding how FDA views what it calls “interactive promotional media” including what is commonly referred to as “social media”, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blogs, as well as networking sites, live podcasts, and online communities. In particular, FDA describes how applicants/sponsors (“firm”) are expected to comply with providing the firm’s promotional activities in this arena.
First, FDA explained that a firm is accountable for all promotional activities that are carried out by the firm or on the firm’s behalf, including communications about the firm’s product(s) that may be influenced or controlled in whole or in part by the firm. In this regard, FDA provided specific examples to illustrate the following principles:
- A firm is responsible for product promotional communications on sites that are owned, controlled, created, influenced, or operated by, or on behalf of, the firm.
- Under certain circumstances, a firm is responsible for promotion on third-party sites.
- A firm is responsible for the content generated by an employee or agent who is acting on behalf of the firm to promote the firm’s product.
Some of the nuances described in the examples clarify that a firm’s mere financial promotion of a site is not sufficient to trigger inclusion of the site as part of the firm’s promotional activities. If a firm merely provides information to be included in the site, then the firm is responsible to provide that content to FDA as promotional activities. Whenever the firm has some influence or control over the content or placement of content, then the firm needs to provide the full site or partial site. If only influencing placement, the actual information and surrounding pages may be provided to put the placement in context. FDA, however, will not review user-generated content (“UGC”), e.g., message boards and chat rooms, that is “truly independent of the firm (i.e., is not produced by, or on behalf of, or prompted by the firm in any particular).”