Week in Review, June 24, 2014

New social media guidance from the FDA has arrived, a new survey points to the need for reps to be comfortable with the science of what they sell, and PhRMA asks CMS for an extension of the data submission deadline.

We have officially, or astronomically anyway, reached summer! The Summer Solstice occurred over the weekend, giving those of us who live in the northern hemisphere the “longest” day of the year. We hope you found a fun and worthwhile way to enjoyed those extra, precious minutes of daylight. While we may slowly be losing daylight from now until the Winter Solstice in December, that doesn’t the party needs to end. We’ll keep the celebration going as we take a look back at the compliance news of the week, with the News in Review.

Two new social media guidance documents from the FDA have finally seen the light of day. One covers the topic of correcting misinformation posted by third parties on the Internet and social media. The document discusses the situations in which the guidance applies; the information that should be included in a response to misinformation; and the type of communication that is outside the scope of the guidance. The other document covers the presentation of risk and benefit information on social media platforms that restrict the number of character spaces. The guidance features examples of how companies can include risk and benefit information in these platforms.

While the limited character guidance was certainly welcomed, companies still need to proceed cautiously with platforms such as Twitter. The guidance does allow for the use of URL shortening services, as well as the use of common abbreviations to help address the character limitations. However, just providing a link to risk information, or posting a follow-up Tweet, is not sufficient for communicating risk.

A new season has dawned for pharmaceutical sales reps according to a recent survey of healthcare company leaders. More than half of the respondents said selling isn’t the most important skill for reps. Today’s products require sales reps be able to hold in-depth scientific conversations with doctors. Evolving technology was also referenced as being a key factor in the changing role of a sales rep.

A former president of the American Medical Association would like to see physicians and industry companies spending time together in the Sunshine. At a recent conference, former AMA president, Jeremy Lazarus, commented that manufacturers need to work with physicians to develop a mutually beneficial relationship when dealing with the requirements of the Sunshine Act. He said many physicians are still unaware of Sunshine, even though information about their relationships with industry companies will soon be publicly accessible.

PhRMA would like to see the Sunshine “extended.” Last week PhRMA sent a letter to CMS suggesting that the June 30 Phase 2 data submission deadline be extended. In the letter, PhRMA said its members are reporting technical problems with the registration process in Open Payments. Companies have also encountered numerous problems when uploading data. The problems are particularly troublesome for foreign entities, and those entities are having issues getting help because the CMS helpdesk does not accommodate European or Asian time zones. PhRMA would like CMS to extend the deadline 30 days once the agency confirms that the glitches have been corrected and the system is operating correctly.

The release of the latest social media guidance by the FDA is a timely reminder that promotional statements must meet certain requirements, regardless of the communication platform. That’s why we are updating the PharmaCertify™ Good Promotional Practices module to include the new information. The module is targeted to sales and marketing staff and topics include gifts, meals and entertainment; promotional statements; advisory boards; and the handling off-label inquiries.

Have a great week everyone!

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