The FDA letters only focused on paid search engine ads where there is a limit of about 70 characters. You can feel some empathy for pharma marketers in that case because of the impossibility of fitting all that fair balance into 70 characters -- impossible!
But what about the 140 characters allowed in Twitter posts? Is the FDA looking at that?
Below is an example of two Twitter posts made by AstraZeneca US on March 29, 2009 -- a few days before the 14 letters were sent (BTW, AZ was not one of the companies that received a letter that day).
(Click on image for an enlarged view.)
These Twitter posts ("tweets" include the brand name of the drug (Crestor) and the indications (eg, "reduce CV risk" and "reduce risk of blood clots in the veins"), but not the side effects. Both tweets link to AZ press releases that contain all the risk information.
BTW, you'll also find links to these press releases on the AstraZeneca (US) web site here. These links also mention the brand name and benefit without mentioning side effects.
This raises a couple of interesting questions:
- Are Twitter posts considered promotions that are subject to FDA regulations?
- What about links to press releases on drug company web sites?