Bill Drummy is CEO of Heartbeat Digital, an independent interactive marketing and software company he founded in 1998. Heartbeat is headquartered in New York, with offices in Brussels, Geneva, Paris and London.
Named one of pharma’s “100 Most Inspiring People,” by PharmaVoice, Bill has provided strategic guidance at the highest levels for Amgen, GSK, sanofi-aventis, UCB and many other leading pharma and biotech companies.
Bill’s reputation as a strategic thinker is well-known; he’s regularly published on industry issues and has been a featured speaker at major industry conferences, including DTC National ePharma Summit, and the Conference on Marketing.
It’s good news, and potentially a much broader story than most commentators have recognized so far.
While attention has focused on social media, the announcement actually refers to “Internet and social media promotion.” I’m not sure most people realize that FDA has never issued guidelines on any use of the Internet – more than ten years after the first pharma Websites were launched. Is a Website primarily informational, like a package insert? Is it primarily promotional, like a print ad or television commercial? Is it something in between? Pharma marketers have had to guess and pray they didn’t get a warning letter.
So it’s a good thing that FDA is finally stepping up; now we have to hope they do so with vision and clarity, especially when it comes to the rich possibilities of social media. In the absence of FDA guidance, pharma marketers have been pretty much paralyzed in their approach to Facebook, Twitter, and their other new media cousins.
There is nary an example of anything but non-social, social media – meaning sites have been constructed on Facebook and elsewhere with the interactive parts almost entirely neutered.
If FDA takes a stand that allows pharma marketers to interact with patients, physicians, and caregivers in a valuable, authentic way, enabling them to help improve the healthcare dialogue – without holding them responsible for the occasional wayward or wacky comment from an unleashed member of the public – it will be doing a real service to us all.
And if at the same time they finally clarify the rules about branded and non-branded Websites, FDA will be enabling pharma companies to deploy the Web’s unique power to inform the public and promote their products – safely and effectively.