Friday, June 29, 2007

Google's "Old School" Health Advisory Council

Google recently recruited about a dozen or so healthcare experts to form the Google Health Advisory Council (see Google Blog).

The mission of this council is "to help us better understand the problems consumers and providers face every day and offer feedback on product ideas and development."

Now, I'm not complaining that Google didn't pick me or any other healthcare blogger to be on this council. Others have already pointed out this deficiency:

"Looking at the list, it sounds like a lot of old-school, ivory tower types drafted for their titles. Not a lot of youth nor medical bloggers here, which would have been better choices, considering the demographic of the web." (see Kevin, M.D. post).

I've probably been on Google's sh*t list ever since I posted my "Girl from Google" (GfG) criticism back in November, 2006. So, I really didn't expect to be invited.

However, if anybody from Google read my GfG post -- and I am sure they did -- they should have realized that what they don't know about the pharmaceutical industry -- a major source of their health advertising budget -- could fill a google of pages!

I say this because Google allows or used to allow adwords that violate FDA regulations (see Lunesta, Google, and "bAdWords") and their attitude is "We don't think it's a problem and it's not our roll to enforce the law." Thus, whenever I see Google folks at pharma industry conferences, I cringe. They just treat drug ads as if they were ads for any other product, like laundry detergent.

The Google advisory council does include David Kessler, M.D., Former FDA Commissioner and, I suppose, he could advise Google about FDA regulations -- if this were 1990 before Google was even a twinkle in Sergey Brin's eye!

There are so many loopholes in FDA regulations regarding online direct-to-consumer pharma marketing you could drive a truck through them. No, wait! There are NO FDA regulations specifically related to the Internet or the Web 2.0 (see "Where's DDMAC's Head At?").

Undoubtedly, Google gets the vast majority of its health ad revenue from the pharmaceutical industry. Just on the basis of that fact, it needs at least one pharma marketing/advertising expert among its advisors.

Google Should Lead New-School Thinking, Not Follow Old-School Advice!

More than that, Google and other online organizations wishing to present responsible drug ads and other pharmaceutical industry communications to consumers need to include experts in pharma eMarketing, especially those experts who want and know how to do it right.

I would include, for example, Fabio Gratton, Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Ignite Health, on the list.

Working with experts like Gratton, Google could take a leading position in the development of guidelines regarding pharma's participation in social media, and what is acceptable and what is not.

Old-timey FDA commish's just won't cut it and don't expect much from the current FDA leadership either!

That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it!

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