FDA looks at online medicine regulation

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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: There's a two-day meeting that gets started today with the Food and Drug Administration looking at regulating online medical information. Big pharmaceutical companies want to market drugs through Web sites such as Twitter. But they say they need new marketing rules from the FDA. Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer is with us live from our Washington Bureau. Good morning Nancy.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: Good morning.

Chiotakis: So aren't the current marketing rules good enough?

Marshall Genzer: Well, the rules in place right now say, whenever you advertise a drug, you have to include a detailed list of possible side effects and that's what you hear at the end of an ad. But there's no way that you could cram all that information about side effects onto sites like Twitter, which has a 140-character limit.

Mark Senak advises drug companies as a consultant for Fleishman-Hillard. And he says the FDA can take years to develop new rules for drug companies, and it's just not keeping up.

MARK SENAK: Communications and the way we communicate, and the way people are seeking information about health care has outstripped the FDA's ability to provide regulation and guidance about that medium.

Chiotakis: So Nancy, what's the answer then?

Marshall Genzer: Well, the drug industry's trade group, PhRMA, says the FDA should relax its standards to accommodate online marketing of drugs. PhRMA says the FDA should create a new logo that would be used in place of those big blocks of information about side effects. And consumers would click on the logo, and it would link them to full information about a drug's side effects. Now, the FDA hasn't commented yet about that idea.

Chiotakis: All right, Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer joining us from Washington. Nancy, thanks.

Marshall Genzer: You're welcome.

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