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FDA draft guidance on social reporting

Senior Director, Social Media

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What would you say if I told you the FDA just published a guidance that clears the way for user-generated content on healthcare-owned channels and properties? You’d say I was crazy, right? Well, here’s the quote:

FDA will not ordinarily view UGC on firm-owned or firm-controlled venues such as blogs, message boards, and chat rooms as promotional content on behalf of the firm as long as the user has no affiliation with the firm and the firm had no influence on the UGC.

So that’s the good news. There are two caveats on this statement in the guidance, “no affiliation” and “no influence.” The details around these caveats may create more questions than answers, however, so download the Draft Guidance and the Klick Health POV and decide for yourself.

No Affiliation

If the author of the content is paid by the healthcare company, either directly or indirectly, then this person is an agent of the company and everything they post about the company or its products falls under the same rules as the company itself.

No Influence

If the healthcare company can exert influence over the content being posted by the author then that influence may make the company responsible for the end result. This area is going to generate the biggest questions and comments for the FDA on this draft guidance, we’re already compiling ours.


This could be interpreted negatively as just the same rules the industry uses now but described more clearly. I think that it marks a shift where the FDA is recognizing that each user on social media owns their own content rather than the old perspective that anything that touches a healthcare social property somehow becomes the responsibility of the property owner.

The statement at the top of this post just made social media conceptually much safer for healthcare marketers. Now comes the hard part of sifting through the conflicting interpretations and finding the truth that the FDA was expressing in the guidance.

Download our POV and join the discussion on Twitter at #FDAsocial.

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The contents of our POV:


More About the Author

Brad Einarsen

Brad is Klick's Senior Director leading the social practice. His group ensures that clients get the best bang for their buck on the social platforms.

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