The FDA meeting next month to review policies for Internet marketing are generating considerable interest and concern. You may recall the agency issued warning letters in March to 14 drug makers, which were tagged for identifying specific brands for violating fair balance guidelines - sponsored link ads for specific drugs were cited as misleading because risk info wasn't included.
Earlier this month, comScore found that sponsored link exposures to U.S. Internet users quickly plunged, even for brands not cited by the FDA. Sponsored link exposures dropped 59 percent from 10.5 million during the week ending March 29 to 4.3 million during the week ending April 5. Declines in sponsored link exposures not only occurred in the weeks immediately following the letters, but continued over the next several months, plummeting 84 percent overall from March to June, according to the firm.
Vanity and unbranded link exposures also declined across brands during the same period, although these methods weren't mentioned in the FDA letters, the firm found. Unbranded sites dropped 35 percent from March to June to slightly more than one million exposures. Vanity URLs - which comSore notes do not mention a specific brand but describe a health condition and redirect to the brand or drug’s website - declined 11 percent in June to 3.2 million average exposures versus March.
Just the same, drug makers continue to spend more on Internet promotion, which is not surprising. Through July, it was up about 16 percent from a year ago, The Pink Sheet reports.