Acronym of the week would be more accurate, but GDUFA will be used as a word so it might as well be defined as one. With the passage of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act on July 9, 2012, GDUFA (‘Generic Drug User Fee Amendments...
by Melissa Biller, Account Executive, Consumer Health and Wellness
As public relations
professionals, social media is
part of our daily lives. Whether counseling clients on engaging their fans on their Facebook page or communicating with reporters via Twitter, the possibilities are endless. And these days there is almost always some degree of social media in everything we propose and execute.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Risk Communications Advisory Committee recently held a meeting to hear and discuss developments in FDA’s ongoing communications program and specifically to address the use of social media platforms to disseminate information.
In case you aren’t familiar with the Risk Communications Advisory Committee, they are responsible for advising the FDA on how to communicate risk associated with FDA-regulated products. They are also tasked with reviewing and evaluating strategies and programs that are currently in place to determine if they need to be changed. In lay terms, if there is a food product recall or an OTC label change they are the ones who alert consumers.
During the most recent meeting, members discussed the importance of finding a balance in the number of channels they use to push out messages. Consumers might tune out messages from the FDA if they start to receive alerts via Twitter, Facebook, text message and email all at once. Interestingly, several members suggested an FDA spokesperson to help build credibility and deepen trust with consumers.
The most important part of the meeting was surrounding the use of social media. As a recent blog post on Legal Bytes report points out, “The Risk Communication Advisory Committee clearly appreciates the fact that technology (including social networking and mobile communication channels) can often quickly provide and make available accurate and helpful information to health and medical professionals, as well as to the population that might be at risk or individuals who need to know in any given situation.”
Unfortunately, there is not an immediate solution for how the FDA can incorporate social media into the risk communications program. Instead, as is often the case, more research is needed! Other highlights of the meeting included:
- Ongoing social media monitoring provides an opportunity to track risk communications’ message impact, identify “influencers” and even correct misinformation before it spreads too virally.
- There is not one solution to disseminating risk communications because general consumers, healthcare professionals and less accessible audiences gather and share information differently.
Even though it will take some time for the FDA to incorporate a social media strategy into risk communications, it is important for them to continue the process and identify a solution to communicate important health information to consumers and stakeholders. With the ever-changing online world continuing to grow, we need solutions that will work and engage target audiences. To that end, the FDA Risk Communications Advisory Committee will meet again in August to discuss additional research and next steps.
We capture the opinions and insights of several of our employees on a variety of communication topics about Healthcare.