Until now, online social networking has been treated mostly as a plaything for some pharmaceutical manufacturers. They will post a few updates on Twitter, maybe start a Facebook page or post a YouTube video or two, but I have seen little indication that the companies have really bought in, much less that they “get it” (though, some like AstraZeneca may play it safe while the FDA works out the regulation aspect).
Eye on FDA has a good summary of what’s happened to get us to this point. Initially, the FDA was more concerned with the content of pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers’ messages. However, last year the FDA realized that there are only so many contraindications you can fit in 140 characters. So, in September 2009, they took the proactive step of setting a meeting (which BigPharma interestingly did not attend) and encouraging comments (open through last month). The hope is that they will be able to draft some sort of guidelines, so everyone knows where the line is.