The Pharmaguy Social Media Timeline™


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The Pharmaguy Social Media Timeline documents some of the key events in pharma's social media quest, including its triumphs and tribulations.

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  • One fact check...Gardasil's 'Take a Step Against Cervical Cancer' was the first pharma Facebook page. It came out in the summer of 2007.
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  • Thank you for your information. I attended your session at SLA2011 in June and told you that I will introduce this information to Japanese Info. Pros. Did you remember me?
    Is there any progress of FDA guideline related after July?
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  • Thanks Mark. I just updated it to Pfizer's FB hack and phasing out of FB pages due to new FB comments policy.
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  • Thanks for the resource John. This is an impressive collection and a nice resource.
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The Pharmaguy Social Media Timeline™

  1. 1. © 2017 Pharmaguy Pharmaguy’s Social Media Timeline “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” George Santayana, American writer “Constant Effort and Frequent Mistakes are the Stepping Stones to Genius” Elbert Hubbard, American writer Revised 7 January 2017
  2. 2. © 2017 Pharmaguy My Personal Timeline of Critical Pharma Social Media Activities Pharmaguy is Chief Pundit at This Timeline begins in 2005, the year that Pharma Marketing Blog was launched. Around that time and shortly thereafter, Facebook, Blogger, YouTube, and Twitter became available to all and ushered in the modern “social media” era. For a more comprehensive and up-to-date timeline with links to source documents, see my Google Docs version here:
  3. 3. © 2017 Pharmaguy First Pharma Discussion Board GSK’s allowed consumers to ask questions and have an online conversation among themselves and with experts. GSK said the purpose of the site was to offer peer support and professional advice to dieters and to "dispel the many myths about dieting, exercise and fraudulent weight loss products.” April 2006 In June 2007, GSK launched AlliConnect—the first pharma product branded Blog—to promote Alli, its newly approved over-the-counter weight loss pill.
  4. 4. © 2017 Pharmaguy First Pharma Sponsored YouTube Video GSK (UK) sponsors “My Dad has Restless Leg Syndrome” YouTube video, which includes a message at the end stating that “My dad is one of a Million people in the UK who suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome.” October 2006 May 2008: Johnson & Johnson launches the first pharma YouTube unbranded Channel. September 2008: FDA issues first pharma YouTube video warning letter to Shire Pharmaceuticals (Vyvanse). February 2009: AstraZeneca launches "My Asthma Story," the First Rx (Symbicort) branded YouTube channel.
  5. 5. © 2017 Pharmaguy Pfizer Collaborates with Sermo October 2007 Sermo and Pfizer sign a deal where-by Pfizer gains access to the online physician community via surveys and sponsored con- tent. More importantly, Pfizer physicians can join Sermo and openly participate in online physician conversations as long as they identify themselves as employees of Pfizer.
  6. 6. © 2017 Pharmaguy First Pharma Facebook Page June 2008 McNeil Pediatrics—a division of J&J—launches ADHD Moms. “Now to be fair, this Facebook page, still isn’t all that interactive,” said Marc Monseau, a J&J spokesperson at the time. “Though visitors can download podcasts, articles and participate in instant polls, they can’t post coments to the wall on the page. What they can do, though, is use their own Facebook pages to connect with other ADHD Moms fans. It’s a baby step, to be sure...”
  7. 7. © 2017 Pharmaguy FDA Sends 14 Notice of Violation Letters April 2009 FDA sends 14 letters on a single day to major pharmaceutical companies con- cerning their Google and Yahoo Rx paid search ads. Letters were dated 29 March 2009, but made public on 2 April 2009. 1 April 2009: Pharmaguy posted a fake press release announcing FDA guid-ance regarding pharma’s use of social media.
  8. 8. © 2017 Pharmaguy Death of the “One-Click Rule” “...there is no ‘official’ FDA one-click rule... there is a ‘received precedent’ that if you have one click from your brand site to the PI or labeling information, that is acceptable. Or call it ‘best practice’. Or call it just ‘common practice’.” − Jim Nail FDA’s 14 warning letters put an END to the one-click “rule,” “received precedent,” “best practice,” or “common practice,” − Pharmaguy.
  9. 9. © 2017 Pharmaguy UCB Embraces Adverse Events on Sponsored Discussion Board  Goal: Generate patient-reported outcomes that may help UCB better understand how patients live with epilepsy and help advance epilepsy care.  Provides disease tracking tools  Deployed a system for report- ing adverse events to FDA June 2009
  10. 10. © 2017 Pharmaguy First Rx Branded DTC Tweet! June 18, 2009 I called this tweet “Sleazy Twitter Spam” We Are Still Friends! Tweets are written by racecar driver Charlie Kimball who is is a fully-branded Levemir spokesperson when in uniform. March 29, 2009: @AstraZenecaUS was first to post tweets intended for HCPs and the press that mentioned a brand name drug (CRESTOR) & indications for which it was being studied (e.g., “reduce CV risk”).
  11. 11. © 2017 Pharmaguy FDA Hosts Public Hearing on Internet & Social Media November 12-13, 2009 Accountability Fulfilling Regulatory Requirements Posting Corrective Information Links Adverse Event Reporting April 2, 2009: Pharmaguy issued first public call for FDA public hearing on social media. “We should make sure that when it comes time for the FDA to actually create a guidance document on social media that it does it with input from ALL stakeholders.”
  12. 12. © 2017 Pharmaguy Disgruntled Patient Shuts Down Sanofi- Aventis Facebook Page March 15, 2010 The pharmaceutical industry’s worst fear was realized when a “disgruntled patient” posted multiple adverse event messages and photos on the wall of a Sanofi-Aventis Facebook page (VOICES). The page did not have comments turned off and did not include any terms of use.
  13. 13. © 2017 Pharmaguy First Pharma FB Page to Publish Comments October 7, 2010 Published all comments before reviewing, but reserved right to delete comments that were offensive or mentioned ANY product.
  14. 14. © 2017 Pharmaguy First Pharmaguy Social Media Pioneer Award October 19, 2010 Alex Butler, former Digital Strategy and Social Media Manager at Janssen & recipient of first ever Pharmaguy Social Media Pioneer Award, said: “If a brand, company, person is that worried about comments in SM there is probably a deeper issue under the surface.”
  15. 15. © 2017 Pharmaguy First Live Pharma Tweet Chat February 16, 2011 AstraZeneca hosts a one-hour chat on Twitter to raise awareness about helping patients save money through prescription savings programs. Pharmaguy said, "This is quite gutsy of AZ considering that anyone can ‘join’ the chat simply by posting a message containing the #rxsave hashtag. And anyone can post messages about AZ drugs and mention side effects too even though AZ might say that it will not respond to questions about specific drugs.” “OMG! AstraZeneca Hosts Twitter Chat & World Does NOT End!,” -- Pharmaguy
  16. 16. © 2017 Pharmaguy First Hack of a Pharma Facebook Page July 20, 2011 Pfizer’s US corporate FB page broken into by “Script Kiddies.” Shut down for several hours over weekend. Admin password “guessed” by hackers after finding a LinkedIn page of an outside PR agency person who was responsible for creating or overseeing the page’s development  Lessons:  Make sure your passwords are strong & protected  Hire competent outside agencies (PR vs Interactive?)  Have competent in-house FTEs oversee SM agencies monitor SM sites 24/7
  17. 17. © 2017 Pharmaguy Pharma Phases Out Facebook Pages August 15, 2011 New Facebook Policy: Pharma is no longer be able to shut off comments to pages unless full prescribing info is included (for product pages) Among First to go: ADHD Moms Did some pharmacos use this an excuse to shut down pages that were no longer effective?
  18. 18. © 2017 Pharmaguy Pfizer’s Facebook Comment Fiasco October 27, 2011 Chapstick “slapstick” ad criticized for being sexist and/or anti-women Negative comments deleted without explanation People complain about comments being deleted A social media “death spiral” ensured said AdWeek Eventually (maybe too late!), Pfizer apologizes but tempers the apology by saying it only deletes “repetitive” & “spam-like” comments
  19. 19. © 2017 Pharmaguy Allergan Employee Tweet Breaches PMCPA Code December 13, 2011 The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) ruled Allergan breached the Code on several counts after an employee accidentally tweeted publicly about Botox Employee violated Allergan’s "Global Social Media Policy” that clearly stated "no Allergan employee might comment in a social media forum about Allergan products or business activity." Should pharmacos make their SM policies public to be more transparent & accountable?
  20. 20. © 2017 Pharmaguy FDA Publishes Off-Label Guidance December 27, 2011 Section VI addresses responding to unsolicited requests on public forums such as the Internet and "emerging electronic media” Cites cases on YouTube, blogs, and Twitter: Pharma should respond to unsolicited requests via private channels “FDA recommends that sales and marketing personnel have no input on the content of responses to unsolicited questions or requests for off-label information”
  21. 21. © 2017 Pharmaguy Novo Nordisk & Bayer on Pinterest April 2012
  22. 22. © 2017 Pharmaguy Pharma Invited to Edit Wikipedia Articles June 13, 2012 In an open letter, Bertalan Meskó, MD, founder and managing director of, advised pharma companies “to employ a Wikipedia editor if you want to make sure only evidence-based information is included in entries about your own products.” No takers as of January 2014
  23. 23. © 2017 Pharmaguy Pfizer Does Not Give Up on Social Media Comments June 18, 2012 Registered visitors to Get Old site are encouraged to "Share your thoughts and experiences about getting old." Can post links, videos, photos, or stories Posts reviewed within 48 hours Includes posts from patient advocacy partners (e.g., Alzheimer’s Association)
  24. 24. © 2017 Pharmaguy Congress Gives FDA Until July 2014 to Issue Social Media Guidance July 10, 2012  "Miscellaneous Provision" of the "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act" (aka PDUFA)  “Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secre- tary of Health and Human Services shall issue guidance that describes Food and Drug Administration policy regarding the promotion, using the Internet (including social media), of medical products that are regulated by such Administration.”
  25. 25. © 2017 Pharmaguy Roche Publicly Discloses Social Media Principles August 16, 2012 “A significant, albeit, small step in the direction of corporate transparency, normally so difficult to achieve within the pharma industry but so essential if it is to regain the trust that will be crucial for its long-term survival…[yet] so few pharmas have publicly revealed their social media policies. Why is the industry so reticent?” -- Len Starnes, Bayer
  26. 26. © 2017 Pharmaguy Janssen Engages HIV Community on Tumblr August 2013 This may be the first use of Tumblr by a major pharmaceutical company. Janssen encourages visitors to “Share Your Story.” Submissions “will be posted within 1-5 business days.”
  27. 27. © 2017 Pharmaguy First Pharma Twitter Chat Focused on a Medical Condition September 2, 2013 Boehringer Ingelheim was the first pharma company to host an open, live Tweet Chat -- #ChatAFib -- around a specific medical condition.
  28. 28. © 2017 Pharmaguy FDA Publishes First Official SM Guidance January 14, 2014 CDER publishes draft guidance on “Fulfilling Regulatory Requirements for Postmarketing Submissions of Interactive Promotional Media for Prescription Human and Animal Drugs and Biologics” Although the guidance is focused on when and how pharma companies should submit forms to the FDA to fulfill regulatory requirements for postmarketing submissions, it does offer some insights regarding FDA's thinking on regulating "interactive media.”
  29. 29. © 2017 Pharmaguy FDA Guidance for Submission of Interactive Promotional Media January 14, 2014 Focus is on Accountability Issues  What Constitutes "Influence?”  Burdensome Paperwork  Placement of Ads on Independent 3rd-Party Sites - Off-Label “Adjacency”  PhRMA Questions Legality
  30. 30. © 2017 Pharmaguy FDA’s CDER Publishes 2014 Guidance Agenda January 31, 2014 “Guidance Agenda: New & Revised Draft Guidances CDER is Planning to Publish During Calendar Year 2014” Regarding advertising/social media:  Character Space Limitations  Correcting Independent Third Party Misinformation  Use of Links
  31. 31. © 2017 Pharmaguy Boehringer Publishes Tweet Chat Playbook April 2014 “How pharma Tweetchats can drive healthcare innovation”
  32. 32. © 2017 Pharmaguy FDA Publishes TWO Social Media Draft Guidances in a Single Day! June 17, 2014 ① “Internet/Social Media Platforms: Correcting Independent Third-Party Misinformation About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices” ② “Internet/Social Media Platforms with Character Space Limitations— Presenting Risk and Benefit Information for Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices” “Regardless of the Internet source used to communicate about medical products, the public health is best served by clear, accurate, truthful and non-misleading information about them.” – Tom Abrams, Director, OPDP
  33. 33. © 2017 Pharmaguy FDA Warning Letter Cites Facebook “Likes” June 27, 2014 The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a rare Warning Letter chiding a company for, among other reasons, improperly “liking” certain unapproved claims about its product on Facebook. FDA said it considered the company's "likes" to be equivalent to endorsements or promotions. 
  34. 34. © 2017 Pharmaguy First Rx Product Instagram Post Warning Letter July 21, 2015 In a warning letter to Duchesnay USA, which markets Diclegis, the FDA said the social media post “entirely omits all risk information” and pointed out that the “one-click rule” is not a rule FDA recognizes. 
  35. 35. © 2017 Pharmaguy Pharmaguy Coauthors Book August 14, 2015 “Socialize Your Patient Engagement Strategy: How Social Media and Mobile Apps Can Boost Health Outcomes” “Affinito and Mack provide a historical overview of the market trends as well as a future roadmap that is helpful to anyone charged with making the shift to patient- centered care today - and planning for what is possible tomorrow.” – Mark Bard 
  36. 36. © 2017 Pharmaguy FDA to Study “Space-Limited” Communications November 17, 2016 The US Food and Drug Administration announces plans to study whether links can be sufficient means of presenting risk information about drugs in advertising on social media platforms, such as Twitter, where character space is limited. Docket ID: FDA-2016-N-3585 “Character- Space-Limited Online Prescription Drug Communications” 
  37. 37. © 2017 Pharmaguy Social Media Pharma Marketing Readiness Self-Assessment Overcoming Space Limitations in Social Media Accountability for Pharma Content on Social Media Sites Solving the Social Media Adverse Event Reporting Problem Pharmaguy's Social Media Compendium Pharma Social Media Resources
  38. 38. © 2017 Pharmaguy Contact Me, If You Can