Because FDA has not issued definitive guidelines pertaining to drug marketing, companies have shied away from the use of social media in drug promotion. They have been wary since April 2010, when FDA sent letters to 14 companies, including Lilly, demanding that their search engine display ads exhibit side-effects warnings. Because neither search ads nor Tweets have the space to show all that, companies have been rather cool on using Twitter or social media in general for promoting drugs.
However, when it comes to patients, Lilly would like to communicate about specific diseases and some of their own drugs. The Indianapolis-based company recently drafted social media guidelines in hope of expanding its use of social media to more company employees without violating drug promotion regulations. The company would also like to share information with investors about its corporate finances or with various stakeholders about issues of corporate responsibility.
Presently, Lilly bars employees from talking about company business matters on social media, but the company is gearing up for the training to get more workers talking about Lilly in the future.
Mia Burns, associate online editor for Pharmalive.com, spoke with Greg Kueterman, director, government legislation, access and public policy issues, for Lilly to find out a little bit more about the company's social media activities.
Q: What is the most gratifying non-pharma reaction that Lilly’s outreach efforts have received? A: I think what we really like is that we have different community partners, particularly, in Indianapolis, who interact with us on Twitter and different platforms. Some of them are Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and the Indianapolis Colts. We seem to have a fair amount of media who follow us and periodically contact us about stories. It really shows in real life that we’re doing is impactful. We’re trying to have a conversation with people and provide information that followers find useful. We’re always happy when we’ve hit that mark. Q: How are things going with LillyPAD? A: LillyPAD is going very well. Tomorrow, Sept. 15, is our two-year-anniversary. We have hit more than 9,600 followers on Twitter. These are good and solid numbers for a biopharma company. Who follows us is more important than how many people follow us. Yesterday, we had an event in Washington with Washington Post Live. It was actually a busy week. We were at a Senate roundtable discussion involving The Sunshine Act. Q: Do you feel like you have accomplished what you need to do with social media? A: There’s always going to be room for improvement with social media, but we do feel like we’ve accomplished a lot over the last two years. We take social media very seriously. We always look at whether it should be implemented into any of out communications. It should not be an add on. It should always be part of the consideration.
(Hat tip to the Indiana Business Journal)