Facebook Changes Its Policy Regarding Pharmaceutical Companies’ Public Comment Walls
On August 15, 2011, Facebook changed its policy regarding public comments on the Walls of pharmaceutical companies Facebook pages. In the past, Facebook granted pharmaceutical companies the privilege of disabling comment Walls on their company pages, which prevented the public from posting or viewing comments. The new policy, however, no longer allows companies to hide public comments. This change applies to pharmaceutical company pages and company-sponsored pages that are geared toward a specific disease or patient community. The new Facebook policy, however, does not apply to any pages dedicated to a specific prescription product.
Many pharmaceutical companies did not join the Facebook community until the social-networking site granted them the special privilege of disabling comment Walls. This change in Facebooks policy has raised concerns among pharmaceutical companies because it permits the public to make comments that may not be favorable to drug makers. Under the new policy, the public can comment about adverse side effects, promote off-label uses, or make inappropriate statements about pharmaceutical products. Companies fear that comments about adverse reactions or negative experiences could inevitably force them to file adverse event reports with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For these reasons, pharmaceutical companies are worried that Facebooks new Wall policy will attract unwanted attention from government regulators.
Facebooks new Wall policy has received a mixed response from pharmaceutical companies. Concerns over risks associated with an open Wall and the possible added expense of policing their own Facebook pages has led some drug companies to completely shut down their pages. For example, AstraZeneca, the producer of a major antidepressant, Seroquel, shut down a page dedicated to depression. Some companies have announced new public commenting guidelines, while others have expressed intent to increase monitoring of their company pages.
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