Billy Tauzin, CEO of PhRMA, the US drug industry trade group, laid into the FDA's proposal for a Drug Watch site (see "FDA Drug Watch Site Guidelines") according to a Reuters story ("Drug Makers Object to U.S. Plan for Early Warnings").
Most of Tauzin's comments are predictable: According to Tauzin, the site
- could lead to unnecessary confusion and "irrational fears" about medicines,
- would be "too vague and preliminary to be of any value in making informed treatment and prescribing decisions," and
- may exceed the FDA's authority.
I am not sure how to interpret this comment.
On the one hand, Tauzin may be more worried about what bloggers do than what the FDA may do. On the other hand, Tauzin may be putting bloggers down. It all depends on which bloggers he's talking about.
He may be talking about patient bloggers writing about their experiences with Rx drugs, in which case he should be more worried about bloggers than about the FDA. These bloggers have as much, if not more, credibility with the public as does the FDA. That's due to the power of "buzz marketing" combined with the public's current low rating of the FDA's credibility.
Tauzin, however, may be talking about professional bloggers/critics like me who read his comment this way: "I'd rather have the FDA doing it than some scum of the earth pharma pundit on the Internet." I think I could be classified in that category of blogger ;-)
In any case, I happen to agree with Tauzin's first two objections. That's why I made a suggestion to the FDA on how they can improve their concept of the Drug Watch site. Namely, I proposed that a Drug Risk Advisory System be implemented through the Drug Watch web site (see "A Proposal for a Drug Risk Advisory System"). This, I believe, would take care of the first two of Tauzin's objections mentioned above.
As for the last objection, which PhRMA almost always raises -- i.e., FDA would be exceeding its authority -- only Congress can (and may) take care of that.
P.S. If you want to learn more about how blogging is affecting pharma and vice versa, take a look at the PharmaBlogging conference that I will chairing and speaking at.