Social Buzz

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Taren Grom, Editor

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FDA’s Thomas Abrams Discusses Social Media’s Impact on the Regulatory Area

TRENDING NOW: Social media is changing the regulatory environment.

PharmaVOICE asked Thomas Abrams, director of the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, how social media changed the regulatory environment for the drug and biologic industry.

His response: Today, the Internet, and various social media platforms have increasingly enabled drug and device manufacturers to more actively engage with consumers and healthcare professionals about the products they manufacture and market. As with more traditional or “old” media, FDA oversight seeks to ensure that messages using interactive promotional media appropriately communicate accurate information about the safety and effectiveness of medical products. The agency wants to ensure that the information being communicated about a drug product is truthful, balanced, and accurately communicated.

The volume of websites and social media, and the rapid frequency of changes and additions made to them present challenges for the monitoring of these sites. The FDA proactively monitors the Internet for prescription drug promotion. We also follow up on all complaints submitted by companies, healthcare professionals, and consumers about prescription drug promotion. This includes promotion using the Internet.

Social media is an important resource and the agency is committed to developing additional guidance for drug and device manufacturers that outline the agency’s regulatory expectations as the area continues to grow.
For more information, visit

Facebook and YouTube Top Health Content Channels
When it comes to health topics on social media, Facebook and YouTube are the top channels for finding content, according to the Health Research Institute.

Further research by Klick Health has found that 78% of online Americans watch online videos, and for most that means YouTube. Across many diseases, popular YouTube videos fall into a number of discrete categories:
» Patient stories: new patients and caregivers crave the experience of others with the same condition. They will watch these videos en masse if the voice is authentic and the stories are real.
» Association disease descriptions: new ­patients and caregivers also frequently view more general disease information, and national associations provide trusted sources for this content.
» Provider treatment descriptions: once a ­patient has decided to take action, provider videos become important. Introductory and what to expect videos are popular. It is likely that the what to expect videos are not just ­patients who have been asked to watch by their HCP but potential patients trying to gauge if the treatment is a good fit for them.
» Therapy mechanism of action: interestingly, some of the more scientific videos can acquire significant views, especially in the more ­specialized fields such as oncology.
The numbers suggest that it is not just healthcare professionals watching but patients as well.
For more information, visit

Mobile Health Market to Grow to $26 billion by 2017
According to the Global Mobile Health Market Report 2013-2017 by research2guidance, the market for mHealth services will reach $26 billion globally by 2017.
Results by the numbers:
» 97,000 mHealth applications in major app stores.
» 84% of total mHealth application market ­revenue will come from related services and products, such as sensors.
» 42% of mHealth apps adhere to a paid business model.
» 15% of mHealth applications are designed for healthcare professionals in the form of CME, ­remote monitoring, and healthcare ­management apps.
» 9% of the total market revenue in the next five years will come from application downloads.
For more information, visit

Twitter Provides Data Grants to Health-Related Projects
In February, Twitter announced a new program offering researchers the chance to get free data for their studies. In late April, Twitter awarded three data grants to researchers looking to access its archives for big data insights on healthcare projects. Recipients include HealthMaps, University of Twente, and University of California San Diego. HealthMaps is a project from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University that aims to mine data for food borne gastrointestinal illness surveillance.

The University of Twente in the Netherlands wants to study the effectiveness of public health campaigns for early detection of cancer, and the University of California San Diego along with The Graduate Center, City University of New York, will study if researchers can accurately measure the overall happiness of a city based on what images users in the area share on Twitter. For more information, follow #DataGrants, and

New App Keeps Docs Up-to-date on Twitter
Recently launched Medscape MedPulse, a medical news app for iPhone and iPad, enables healthcare professionals to stay up-to-date on the latest medical news and expert perspectives in a free, easy-to-navigate app that can be personalized to their interests. Medscape MedPulse features medical content from Medscape’s editorial team, and is the first medical news app to include an automatically curated Twitter feed to help users stay informed of important medical trends being shared in real-time by physicians and other leading medical commentators.
For more information, visit

Survey Shows How Patients Living with Cancer Use Online Information
A recent survey of 1,300 cancer patients by cancer patient advocate Patient Power showed that almost 90% of cancer patients search online to stay current on cancer research and news. When asked about devices used for online access, most patients (36.8%) used a desktop computer, 35.6% used a laptop, 20.8% used a tablet, and 6.2% used a smartphone.

Patient Power was founded by Andrew and Esther Schorr, former founders of, a support site for people with chronic illnesses and cancer. Patient Power’s mission is to help cancer patients or survivors and family members to get the best care and medicine through extensive knowledge of the disease and its treatments. More survey findings include:
» 89.5% of cancer patients search for online health information to stay updated on the ­latest news and research.
» 67.2% wanted to hear from an expert.
» 63.2% of patients surveyed were somewhat confident in their knowledge about their health.
» 61% wanted to hear from or meet others with the same condition
» 38.4% wanted to verify what a doctor had said.
» 28% were very confident in their knowledge about their health.
» 9.5% wanted to gain basic understanding of a health concern.
For more information, visit

Emerging Role of Google Glass in Healthcare
According to a report in MobiHealthNews, the opportunities for Google Glass in healthcare will exist for startups creating Glass-enabled offerings. Hospitals have begun to work with startups to develop enterprise offerings using Google Glass that can be used during patient care, especially in the emergency department or doctor’s office.

MobiHealthNews lists several entrepreneurial companies and programs at the head of the curve on this trend, including:
» Mentor, which allows healthcare providers to take point-of-view videos and photos that they can send to colleagues who will consult the ­information and provide recommendations.
» Informant, which offers near real-time data to the clinician while he or she is with a patient, providing contextual information about the ­patient at point of care.
» Pristine, which has developed a HIPAA- compliant platform with its two products, ­EyeSight and CheckLists.
» EyeSight streams near-real time audio and video from Glass to authorized iOS devices, ­Android devices, Macs, and PCs so that, for ­example, wound care nurses can transmit point-of-view videos to a physician; emergency responders can send relevant video and information to hospital staff; and surgeons can send a live stream of a surgery to residents, fellows, and surgeons at other medical centers.
» CheckLists, which helps physicians reduce errors by allowing them to launch any list they want to refer to, for example, a surgical timeout checklist, eyesight checklist, and cardiac arrest checklist.
For more information, visit

UCB Allows Community Managers to Post to Facebook Without Review
According to GSW’s Leigh Householder, on her Health Experience Project blog, UCB has taken a big step for pharma and created a process that allows community managers to post to Facebook without going through a rigorous review process. The social media team at UCB held a half-day workshop with the medical, legal, and regulatory department to come up with a new way to operationalize its social media channels.

The new approach involves educating in-house community managers about the internal and external policies governing a brand’s communications. It gives clear guidelines for what they can and can’t discuss.

With the training in place, the community managers were able to act independently and they haven’t had an issue so far, Ms. Householder reports.

She adds that UCB has been instrumental in changing expectations about what pharma can —and should — do on social media by building a Facebook community that’s both active and social. Once a patient conversation is initiated, the UCB team participates fully in it, answering questions and recognizing comments in real time.

UCB is able to facilitate its findings on its Epilepsy Advocate Facebook page, designed to share real stories of people with epilepsy and the friends and family who support them.
For more information, visit

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