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Drug Companies Lose Special Protection On Facebook

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the now-available-in-rectal-suppositories dept.

Businesses 181

Hugh Pickens writes "Christian Torres writes that Facebook and the pharmaceutical industry have had an uneasy partnership in recent years and many drug companies didn't join the site until Facebook gave them a privilege that others do not have — blocking the public's ability to openly comment on a page Wall. But that's about to change when, starting Monday, most drug company pages will have to have open Walls. 'We think these policy changes support consistency for the Facebook Pages product and encourage an authentic dialogue between people and businesses on Facebook,' wrote Facebook in an email. AstraZeneca, which sells the antidepressant Seroquel, already shut down a page devoted to depression, Johnson & Johnson says it will close four of its pages, and other companies say they will monitor their pages more closely once the changes take effect. The industry is concerned that users might write about bad side effects, promote off-label use or make inappropriate statements about a product, and that the comments could raise concerns from government regulators."

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Kill all fatties (-1, Troll)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37092892)

They a plague on s

Re:Kill all fatties (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37092916)

It looks like someone took you seriously.

Can't they moderate their own wall? (4, Insightful)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 2 years ago | (#37092900)

Surely their commercial advertising budgets (which are freaking astronomical and reedonkulous) could afford an intern for this.

Re:Can't they moderate their own wall? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093012)

Dude, but that's like $18,000 that the executives won't get. You don't want them cheated out of that, do you?

Re:Can't they moderate their own wall? (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093136)

There is a problem with Public Communication on Healthcare in general.
HIPAA
So if you bust on a drug company unfairly (which often happens on the internet as many makes their opinion of what a friend of a friend said about something) The healthcare company cannot make a rebuttal, because say for example someone says Drug X killed their friend the Drug company who looked into the matter found that they were just prescribed the drug, but an unrelated condition killed them, eg. They took a anti-depressant drug when they were already in the advanced sets of cancer. They cannot rebuttal the claim thus are forced to look bad.

The patient and public is free to discus anything about a medial condition, however the healthcare organization cannot. And moderation of comments will look bad like they are trying to hide things.

Re:Can't they moderate their own wall? (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093238)

You mean a health care company can't comment on their own data that they should have needed to gather in order to be able to sell a medical product in the first place?

Preposterious.

Drug companies own ad are ammunition enough. You just have to bother to pay attention.

Re:Can't they moderate their own wall? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093314)

The healthcare company can't publically respond to a claim of "Patient X died after taking this drug" with the rebuttal "Patient X had end-stage cancer" because it violates every privacy and confidentiality law ever. The right to privacy doesn't end with death.

Re:Can't they moderate their own wall? (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093542)

You did that just fine without violating any individuals personal privacy laws.

Not that a drug company would be in a position to disclose that sort of information anyways. They simply don't have the persons information. That's as it should be.

It's time for you to give up being a corporate shill.

Re:Can't they moderate their own wall? (2)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094366)

> Not that a drug company would be in a position to disclose that sort of information anyways. They simply don't have the persons information. That's as it should be.

Drug companies pay pharmacies to get the history of drugs they sell and who prescribes them. That information includes ID #s unique to particular patients, without formally identifying any of the patients. In the opinion of the pharmacies, etc..., this is enough to comply with medical privacy laws. But don't you think if you got a little bit of information on a patient--where they lived, when they died, a little bit of info on their history (enough to know what other drugs they might have tried), and a doctor or two of theirs, that you could guess a fair number of patient identities from the numbers?

Re:Can't they moderate their own wall? (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37095070)

But don't you think if you got a little bit of information on a patient--where they lived, when they died, a little bit of info on their history (enough to know what other drugs they might have tried), and a doctor or two of theirs, that you could guess a fair number of patient identities from the numbers?

Considering the huge amount of research that goes into tracking internet footprints, I would say that tracing identities from prescription info in the manner you suggest would be a no brainer.

Re:Can't they moderate their own wall? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093654)

Of course they could but they're not worried about bad press fo the sake of bad press...they worried that the general attitude of the public has turned on them and that that means government will swoop in and regulate them further if more bad press comes to light. It's not about removing the bad press it's about obliterating it. They're stuck because they fought hard to get out in the public, be able to advertise, etc. and now that they are they've opened themselves up a bit and don't really know what how to deal with it.

Re:Can't they moderate their own wall? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37094468)

Wait, what? When did Facebook become the Internet? Can't these companies have their own websites? http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/08/15/0411239/Drug-Companies-Lose-Special-Protection-On-Facebook?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Slashdot%2Fslashdot+%28Slashdot%29#

Re:Can't they moderate their own wall? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37095262)

They can't moderate the way they'd like. No permanent deletions. FB would keep a record of all posts.

What 'Special Protection'? (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37092902)

Christian Torres writes that Facebook and the pharmaceutical industry have had an uneasy partnership in recent years and many drug companies didn't join the site until Facebook gave them a privilege that others do not have — blocking the public's ability to openly comment on a page Wall.

Uh, so whoever did the investigative journalism for this piece needs to go back to Webelos and get their fact checking merit badge. All walls can be restricted to only posts by the owner of the wall on Facebook. In fact, it is so uncommon for the wall to be open to fan postings that I had to turn to Mystery Science Theater 3000 [facebook.com] for an example of open posting. Take the current DVD distributor for MST3K, Shout Factory [facebook.com] as an example of a non-pharmaceutical company restricting me from complaining about the packaging on some of their DVD sets openly on their wall.

Every company does it, it's not "special protection." I'm happy that big pharma is losing this option but frankly I'm wondering why anyone is allowed to open up a wall and the suppress public comments on their products. They should be proud of their products and they should engage their customers openly. You can block individual trolls but I'm shocked that their concern isn't bad publicity for their products from a few outliers but instead concern from government regulators! What? If you're giving them all your information about your drug's potential side effects, there shouldn't be any concern!

So looking at the drug they listed, Seroquel [facebook.com] I see the user comments being actually very helpful. People talking about it losing its potency, people talking about switching on or off XR for better results. I'm sure that these comments have been weeded by some corporate automaton but, come on, these are customers helping other customers!

You know what happens when you don't put up a main page for a product? Tons and tons of hate pages [facebook.com] . Government regulators don't notice these?

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093002)

these things need to be told to your doctor, not a facebook page. your doctor will then report this to the company and the government along with some data about you so that scientists can try to make a theory or find some common elements between people complaining about side effects.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093038)

these things need to be told to your doctor, not a facebook page

Tell it to both (and more), unless you really think that telling only your doctor has any chance of getting a dangerous and ineffective drug recalled.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

myurr (468709) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093230)

And saying on a Facebook page swamped with baseless accusations and speculation is going to do a whole lot more? What about the problem of safe and effective drugs being recalled due to uninformed public hysteria on a Facebook page?

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093318)

Hysteria based recalls are usually limited to Intel chips with bugs that couldn't possibly affect anyone, ever. You honestly think a drug would be recalled without actual empirical evidence?

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093914)

Hell, it can be hard to get a drug recalled even with empirical evidence that it's harmful!

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37094112)

People are still reluctant to give their children vaccine shots

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (2)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37095194)

People are still reluctant to give their children vaccine shots

When you can't trust the government or media, how do you know? These are your kids.

The people that sit on drug review boards are almost all taking money in some form from drug companies. Similarly, the people who work in government agencies. It's now up to you to decide what is dangerous and what is not. The government no longer serves the people, it serves corporations. You, buddy, are on your own.

Cheers!

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093360)

Wonder why you're so pessimistic about both the public as well as the pharma's or governments reaction to the public. Do you have any examples of this?

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093498)

The anti vaccine loons

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (2)

Nithin Philips (859095) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093712)

There is a recent case that shows the opposite. The FDA wanted to revoke the approval for Avastin for use in metastatic breast cancer threapy due to the severe side effects and almost no measurable benefits, not to mention the expense. But some people went hysterical claiming that the FDA is taking away a valuable drug (lot of name calling and mud slinging there) despite that fact that the drug only made you more miserable while the prognosis did not change. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000352/ [nih.gov] http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm193900.htm [fda.gov]

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094640)

When I saw the headline, I thought that the companies were being ridiculous. Then I thought about all the trouble with unsubstantiated accusations that immunizations can cause autism.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37094878)

Name one safe and effective drug that has been recalled in this manner.

I can tell you this, there are several medications that doctors in the past have wanted to prescribe. Cholesterol medications with potential side effects such as...

Death! that's right, the #1 listed side-effect was death.
Permanent muscle damage. That was the #2 side effect
Temporary paralysis. The was the #3 side effect

Yup, I refused that medication, sad thing is, it's still on the market (under a *new* rebranded name).

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37095278)

My doctor tried to get me on some cholesterol thingy from Pfiezer, because of my age and family history, and regardless of the fact that my blood pressure is perfect.

I filed that prescription in the round bin.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37095192)

Yeah. Because there are no other popular places on this crazy communcations technologies some might know collectively as "the internet", the "interwebs", a series of tubes, not a dump truck.. well, you get the idea. But there aren't any other places on it that are a) popular and b) permissive with respect to user postings.

If Facebook causes uninformed hysteria in the public, we're beyond hope. If we are particularly lucky, the hysteria will cause a thinning of the rash-thinking population.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093374)

don't take the drug, find another doctor. every drug has side effects. some are very serious and need other drugs to treat them

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093168)

your doctor will then report this to the company and the government

Hahahahahaha. Oh wow, that was funny. You mean the same doctor who gets kickbacks from the same companies he's supposed to report?

"Hello, Dr. John Doe, we heard you wanted to report unfortunate side-effects caused by one of our drugs. We'd like to talk about it in our new seminar, which will be held in the Bahamas, for two weeks, at a time of your choosing."

Hilarious :D

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094680)

Get a better insurance company. The one I've got doesn't provide coverage for medications that haven't met their approval, which is much harder to get than the FDA approval is. The doctors can still order it up and get coverage, but there has to be some justification as to why the normal ones won't work.

As a result of that all those nasty medications lately that have been getting yanked haven't been prescribed by their providers.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093304)

these things need to be told to your doctor, not a facebook page. your doctor will then report this to the company and the government along with some data about you so that scientists can try to make a theory or find some common elements between people complaining about side effects.

I've tried this, when I was suffering from side-effects years ago. It doesn't work. Programmes such as this certainly help [bbc.co.uk] when no doctor wants to listen; as do support groups. That's not to say you shouldn't tell your doctor, just often they aren't the most experienced in your problems.

I think having a support group on the companies' facebook page could be a massive marketing opportunity - if these drugs worked the way they're advertised; but they don't, hence the complaints.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (2)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094400)

Most doctors only report negative side effects if (1) they are reported by a large number of people, and (2) they accord with the doctor's preconceived notions. Most docs make up their own mind whether to believe a patient's report of side-effects. (Crazy, but true.) To be fair, this is mostly a problem during the studies that get the drug approved in the first place, but that's mostly because that's when the side-effects tend to get reported at all.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

rgriff59 (526951) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094852)

these things need to be told to your doctor, not a facebook page. your doctor will then report this to the company...

Typically, a doctor's primary communication with any drug company is through a sales representative, and that sales rep earns a living by making information flow FROM the drug company TO the prescriber.

While I will totally agree that disusing issues with your provider is important, the belief that the information will magically make its way back to the manufacturer is nonsense.

I came here to say the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093064)

I had my wall postings restricted to only myself and my friends, and when that worm was going around that posted itself on friends' walls I restricted wall posting further to only me. I don't know what the big deal is. Is this something different about a "page" or "group" as opposed to a "person"?

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093126)

Idealism... what ever happened to that?

These days, business simply tries to get away with whatever it can rather than take the high road you describe. "Everyone does it" doesn't make it right or good. I really dislike big pharma and it is part of the reason I do all I can to avoid using their products or services.

Eat right, stay active, seek the causes of problems instead of hiding the symptoms. Sounds simple right? (pretty challenging in practice)

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094708)

The problem with free speech is that there's no guarantee that those wishing to exercise it have any idea what they're talking about. Which is normally not much of a problem, but the concerns that the companies are expressing are definitely real, some medications do have legitimate off label use, but there's a tremendous liability to the companies when medications are being used for things they aren't cleared to treat, not to mention their inability to comment on issues about a specific individual who may or may not have had a particular side effect from their medication.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37095430)

I really dislike big pharma and it is part of the reason I do all I can to avoid using their products or services.

I've extended that boycott to ALL corporations. It's tough to do, but I think about where every dollar I spend goes.

It can't be done 100%, but if we all did that, it could in time.

Not about "bad publicity" (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093294)

Having provided marketing support to a pharmaceutical company, bad publicity is not the main fear. Most prescription drugs these days don't actually "cure" anything. Seroquel does not "cure"depression, it treats symptoms. The pharmaceutical companies and the FDA regulators are both acutely aware of this. All of their marketing materials go through legal review to avoid using words like "cure." Having a post from John Q Public stating that "Thanks Seroquel, this cured my depression" on Seroquel's "Official Facebook Page" would be a significant legal problem.

Facebook also shared in the concern that legal liability could fall on them. Excerpts of people's medical histories would be posted. In the United States, HIPAA governs "how" medical information may be stored by third parties. Facebook would risk having to modify their infrastructure to maintain compliance.

Whether you believe "Big corporations" are malevolent or not, them taking preemptive measures to stay within HIPAA is a "Good thing."

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (2)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093308)

I'm happy that big pharma is losing this option

That's silly. DVD manufacturers do not have the same regulatory requirements as a pharmaceutical company. Having worked at big pharma until recently, and having been involved in this very aspect of their operations, I can say that the concern is not as much over "omg your product sux" as it is over things like adverse event reporting. That's not to say they want an open forum for people to bitch about their products - there's a lot of medical misinformation out there and they like to not provide a mouthpiece for that.

But adverse event reporting ("bad side effects") is something which a company has a specific regulated requirement to respond to in a particular way. This is what happens: a doctor gives product X to a patient. Maybe it was on-label application of the product and maybe it wasn't. Maybe the patient is in a risk group which is recommended against receiving the product. Doesn't matter. That patient has either a related or an unrelated event occur as a result. The doctor comes seeking advice on how to proceed.

In an "open forum" several things can happen as a result. First, someone who doesn't represent the company can respond and give advice which is incorrect and not based in medical fact, but the doctor could act on that advice, worsening the patient's condition. Second, the event could be very time critical, and the report could potentially not be seen right away, or could get missed in a deluge of other noise (sometimes the writings of these doctors is not any better than average Internet noise, and even if you're looking for it, you might miss that this is an adverse event report). In the mean time the patient needs medical care, and their doctor is waiting on a response.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093642)

In an "open forum" several things can happen as a result. First, someone who doesn't represent the company can respond and give advice which is incorrect and not based in medical fact, but the doctor could act on that advice, worsening the patient's condition.

So, we're worried that a doctor goes hunting on an open forum on facebook for medical advise? I think we have to worry about whether this is an actual doctor ... or human with an IQ over 17.

 

Second, the event could be very time critical, and the report could potentially not be seen right away, or could get missed in a deluge of other noise (sometimes the writings of these doctors is not any better than average Internet noise, and even if you're looking for it, you might miss that this is an adverse event report). In the mean time the patient needs medical care, and their doctor is waiting on a response.

Again, we're thinking doctors would be stupid enough to consult Facebook (or whatever open forum) instead of the pharmaceutical company???

Note: Patients might go looking at open forums for medical advise - which is generally a bad idea - and any forum, Facebook walls or whatever, that deals with such notions must put up big signs insisting patients go see a trained professional (and not the baffoon looking for medical knowledge on a facebook wall!)

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094448)

Not all trained professionals are good. Some of them are a lot worse than what you find on the internet with an intelligent search. I'll grant that facebook isn't a terribly *reliable* source of data, but you'll find *a lot* of upper-middle class people on there who have experienced whatever you're going through or have had relatives who had, and who are intelligent enough to know quite a bit about the problem. You can't trust them to be medically right, but you can still get a lot of data, and to have experience living through the problem (which docs often don't have).

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (5, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093624)

What's going on here is that the medical industry absolutely detests the idea that people might have a better idea about things than doctors. I'm not saying that a doctor's training and knowledge are useless. What I am saying is that people's individual experiences are also very important.

It's high time, in my opinion, that doctors and the medical industry in general got off its high horse and started dealing with people as equals.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37094588)

What I am saying is that people's individual experiences are also very important.

What you are saying is we should give as much credence to the anecdotes as to controlled scientific study. The general public is atrocious at distinguishing objective information from opinion, and adding a "Drug X is good for condition Y" popularity contest is not going to improve that.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (4, Insightful)

comp.sci (557773) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094648)

As a matter of fact, medicine has been trying very hard to stop basing its beliefs in "individual experiences" but rather in statistical proof that meds work or don't work. I think people upvoted you because medicine is increasingly impersonal and that's unfortunate, but equating this to listening to personal experiences when discussing medications is ludicrous. Have we learnt nothing from the big vaccine scare? Some people deducted that it was vaccines that cause autism and were treated as equals by the media. This is actively leading to quite a few children needlessly dying. To make this more applicable to Slashdot readers: replace "doctors" with "IT specialists" or "programmers". Should we really treat everybody as equals when it comes to implementing new policies, what technologies to use or which devices to use? Of course not, expertise is needed, otherwise the new policy will be to install at least 4 toolbars for IE 6 on every Compaq computer.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (5, Funny)

gsslay (807818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37095382)

otherwise the new policy will be to install at least 4 toolbars for IE 6 on every Compaq computer.

This is typical of the kind of elitist attitude we're up against. I installed 18 toolbars on my internet and found that it made my printer's ink cartridges last longer. Obviously more internet toolbars means better printer mileage. But when I suggest this to our computer people at work they treated me like an idiot, as if I didn't know what I was talking about.

I also recently turned off my computer's anti-virus program, because I've found that stops those annoying little windows when you open pdfs off the internet. You'd think they'd be interested in my discovery, but all I got was shouting and them complaining to my boss.

It's high time the computer industry listened to the experience of people and stop pretending they know everything!

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094734)

There's already a way of doing that, you report it to the FDA or whatever the equivalent is in your area.

Individuals reporting these sorts of things to the public is the last thing you want to have. People have a tendency to draw correlations which aren't realistic and as soon as people find out about a possible side effect you have to worry about the placebo effect. Which on a side note is getting stronger at this point making a lot of medications passed by the FDA unable to beat a placebo if they had to go through trials now.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37095078)

Except they AREN'T equals. Humans have an amazingly sophisticated brain that is extremely good at creating patterns - associating things like cause and effect. Unfortunately, it's so good, it can see patterns where there is no actual relationship (eg: we have a tendency to see faces where no face exists) and that includes illnesses.

Take that vaccine-autism fiasco for example. Some quake decides there's a connection between the two (not the first time he blamed the MMR vaccine for something it wasn't responsible for) and parents saw clear signs of autism shortly after their children received the MMR vaccine. They became so sure of the relationship, despite massive evidence to the contrary, they are willing to put their children at risk of horrific diseases to protect them from something they believe is dangerous. Same thing with quack treatments for autism. There have been so many "miracle" treatments that parents and some doctors truly believed in because they saw improvements sometimes. Except autism isn't stable, and there are often random periods of "improvement"/"regression." Families effected by autism are especially vulnerable to bad science because there is so little that's known about the disorder, it's hard not to fall for cons who offer hope.

Point being, even doctors, who are well aware of the scientific method and epidemiology, can be swayed by bad science, and to the detriment of all. How can normal people hope to disregard their instinct without even realizing how wrong it can be? Doctors and scientists REALLY need to work on their ability to communicate with "normal" people and there are some legitimate trust issues. Having said that, to treat the masses as though they are as informed as a good doctor is an immensely bad idea and it would definitely get people killed. Uninformed medical decisions have killed people for years.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094002)

You can block individual trolls but I'm shocked that their concern isn't bad publicity for their products from a few outliers but instead concern from government regulators! What? If you're giving them all your information about your drug's potential side effects, there shouldn't be any concern!

So looking at the drug they listed, Seroquel [facebook.com] I see the user comments being actually very helpful. People talking about it losing its potency, people talking about switching on or off XR for better results. I'm sure that these comments have been weeded by some corporate automaton but, come on, these are customers helping other customers!

Because one of those helpful customer will post something about an off label use. Some regulator somewhere will decide that since it was on the company's page and wasn't deleted within 10 seconds that the company is promoting such use. And said company will be fined several hundred million dollars.

Even if it's moderated, that just increases the liability problem and the moderator wouldn't be cheap because you can't just employ someone with no knowledge of the products and regulatory rules in various jurisdictions (well you could, but that'll just make the inevitable fine larger).

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094006)

You are right, all walls can be opened or closed.
But in my opinion it is not bad if a wall is closed to the public. If you go to some group facebook page you expect to see a neat relevant feed of posts not a bunch of randoms or trolls posting their random shit. There are places you can go to find customer reviews, and facebook is I site I would NOT suggest for this.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

umbrellasd (876984) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094446)

What about the "Special Protection" of free speech? Yes, Pharma isn't a big fan of that one. "We'd really rather people didn't have the ability to provide honest feedback about our listed side-effects such as rectal bleeding and--uh--death, Mr. Zuckerberg. We definitely don't want them having an actual conversation on our page. They might mistakenly think that the 50,000 people saying Pharma is about profit and not cure, speak for us."

Poor babies.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37094604)

They're free to say whatever they want on their own FB page. This isn't limiting free speech, liberal nutjob.

Re:What 'Special Protection'? (1)

bocin (886008) | more than 2 years ago | (#37095082)

"From 1998 through 2005, reported serious adverse drug events increased 2.6-fold from 34 966 to 89 842, and fatal adverse drug events increased 2.7-fold from 5519 to 15 107. Reported serious events increased 4 times faster than the total number of outpatient prescriptions during the period. In a subset of drugs with 500 or more cases reported in any year, drugs related to safety withdrawals accounted for 26% of reported events in that group in 1999, declining to less than 1% in 2005. For 13 new biotechnology products, reported serious events grew 15.8-fold, from 580 reported in 1998 to 9181 in 2005. The increase was influenced by relatively few drugs: 298 of the 1489 drugs identified (20%) accounted for 407 394 of the 467 809 events (87%)." This is from http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/167/16/1752 [ama-assn.org] . Anyone notice that they are drugging us to death? The Public needs special protection. Sorry about the "Hate Speech"

Wut? (1)

uncholowapo (1666661) | more than 2 years ago | (#37092952)

So the companies are refusing to listen to their customers complaints when it could be valuable insight on how they could better improve the drug? Bravo, way to be respectful to your income.

Re:Wut? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093034)

Yes, it seems ridiculous to say they don't want customers sharing their experiences of side effects and the like. If the drugs company has listed all the side effects (as I believe they're meant to do by law) they shouldn't have anything to worry about from government bodies since they've already disclaimed said effects, but to turn down valuable data from the people buying your product seems like they have no intention of making a better product - in other words they're happy selling products with bad side effects and using marketing spin to smooth over the cracks. Nice work, big pharma, like we didn't already know how profit driven you were, why bother even taking the opportunity to engage with the public and improve your appearance, huh?

Re:Wut? (2)

penix1 (722987) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093146)

You've seen the ads...

Have you used brand X and had side effect Z? Call 1-800-BAD-DRUG now! You could be eligible for compensation!"

The companies don't want there to be any evidence that they were aware of an issue with a drug prior to the jury trial. It is that issue alone which allows for plausible deniability.

Re:Wut? (4, Insightful)

myurr (468709) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093342)

The problem isn't with the public sharing information, it's the public sharing mis-information. I know a couple of hypochondriacs and they come up with all kinds of crazy theories as to what is causing their latest ailment, and yet the doctors never find anything wrong with them and the changes they make to their diet / lifestyle / medicine / etc. never seems to make a blind bit of difference to their view as to whether or not they're ill in some way.

These types of people are far far more likely to kick up a fuss on a public web page if given the opportunity to than those of us who generally have a positive outlook on the few medical treatments we have received are likely to post something positive. Look at the fuss over MMR for example.

Re:Wut? (2)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093062)

The drug companies don't want to be held liable for what customers write. Some kid talks about using his mom's prescription or sharing it with friends, and next thing you know some law firm is suing you.

Re:Wut? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093090)

The drug companies don't want to be held liable for what customers write.

Obvious answer: they're not.

Some kid talks about using his mom's prescription or sharing it with friends, and next thing you know some law firm is suing you.

And the proper response is to tell them that they can go get bent. They can't be held liable for things that other people said. The only way this could remotely be construed into a viable case is if you can show that the drug company was grossly negligent in failing to remove posts from their wall in a timely manner after they were aware of them. That wouldn't be an easy case to make.

Re:Wut? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093162)

And under HIPAA they cannot publicly defend any personal claims, in a public environment like Facebook.
Sometimes the Company isn't trying to be evil.

I would wonder if this wouldn't run afoul of HIPPA (2)

studpuppy (624228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37092970)

I wouldn't be surprised if the lawyers at these drug companies were concerned that they would somehow be violating the medical privacy laws by allowing visibility of (potential) users of their product by other FB users. If you were to post on their wall that you had adverse side effects, and your boss saw that comment and took action because of concern for a medical condition the company had previously not known about, I'm sure some plaintiff's lawyer would try to hold the drug company liable for exposing that fact (even while the boss/employer was also clearly in the wrong).

Re:I would wonder if this wouldn't run afoul of HI (2)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093042)

I'm not sure how this is any different to you telling your friends in the local pub about a drug you're being prescriped and having it get back to your boss that way. If it's private, don't share it in public, full stop. People should have (certainly by now, with all the slips in the past) zero expectation of privacy with regards to anything they post on Facebook.

Re:I would wonder if this wouldn't run afoul of HI (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093198)

I'm not a lawyer, but...

The key phrase there is 'If you were to post...'. It can't be a HIPPA violation if the person voluntarily divulges the information themselves as the privacy regulations involve the actions of the healthcare provider, not the individual receiving care. That is, HIPPA protects people from having their medical information shared by the medical provider to third parties that do not have a medical necessity to provide care to know. In other words, your doctor can share relevant information about your medical history with your pharmacy without your specific instruction (e.g., other drugs you're taking, allergies, etc), but can't provide the same information to your spouse without specific instructions from you

Additionally, I doubt they would have any luck to start as they would have to somehow show there was an expectation of privacy on a public posting on Facebook.

Re:I would wonder if this wouldn't run afoul of HI (2)

todrules (882424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093274)

What??? How are they violating laws when the patient is the one posting about their own use? What if I post on my own Wall? Are the drug companies liable then? What if I open a blog and post about my drug use? Can I then sue the drug company for violating my medical privacy?

Oh yeah, I also take prescription strength Allegra. OK, so now can I sue Slashdot for violating my medical privacy?

Re:I would wonder if this wouldn't run afoul of HI (1)

dumbo11 (798489) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093580)

The boring, but obvious reason seems more likely to be:
"Hi, My name is Hutz, I represent a group of people suing company X for producing drug Y which caused horrific side-effects. If you want to join this action...."

Re:I would wonder if this wouldn't run afoul of HI (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094326)

I wouldn't be surprised if the lawyers at these drug companies were concerned that they would somehow be violating the medical privacy laws by allowing visibility of (potential) users of their product by other FB users. If you were to post on their wall that you had adverse side effects, and your boss saw that comment and took action because of concern for a medical condition the company had previously not known about, I'm sure some plaintiff's lawyer would try to hold the drug company liable for exposing that fact (even while the boss/employer was also clearly in the wrong).

Simply liking the page so that you can see their updates may be a problem.

Heaven forbid (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37092992)

anyone say anything negative about drug companies. Think about it, they're NOT in the business of producing CURES... they make all their money on TREATMENTS. And the longer you have to take their treatment, the more money you're throwing at them.

Re:Heaven forbid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093020)

I love drugs, take em every day.

Re:Heaven forbid (0)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093032)

Sadly, mod parent up.

Re:Heaven forbid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093046)

You rarely can produce a cure from swallowing or injecting a compound for a limited amount of time. An under active thyroid, for example, can't be permanently reactivated by dousing it with chenmicals. You can't re-enable a diabetics pancreas by chemicals.

A cure for many chronic conditions will never come from a drug company because it's not possible for a drug to fix it.

Re:Heaven forbid (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093172)

They cannot defend themselves because they are regulated under HIPAA unlike the rest of the population who can say whatever they want.

FDA: Facebook Dead Already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093026)

I wonder if the FDA will ever realize they can completely turn off those pesky complaints by the people they supposedly work for, instead of just making them more difficult to see. (http://facebook.com/FDA and click 'Top Posts')

Be the first to Like this big pharmaceutical! (5, Insightful)

TraumaFox (1667643) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093052)

I don't really understand the point of pharmaceutical companies even having Facebook pages. I get enough of their advertising shoved down my throat on TV every day, I certainly don't want to be friends with them on Facebook. As far as government regulations go, it's sad enough that these companies have to disable wall postings to suppress people from talking about things like negative side effects, but I find it even sadder if people think the only place to have these discussions is on Facebook pages in the first place.

I mean, what's the train of thought supposed to be, here? "Oh good, now that I can openly write on a pharmaceutical company's wall, I can finally let everyone know about these horrible side effects their medication caused for me. There was definitely no outlet for this prior to now, and it comes just in time, because these unreported side effects are so bad it almost certainly warrants a governmental investigation!"

Re:Be the first to Like this big pharmaceutical! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093296)

You say that sarcastically, but in some cases it's going to be true. It's one of the main draws of the internet in the first place. People who are members of an incredibly small class of humanity can go online and find other members of their group for socializing or a sense of community when, if they'd tried to do the same in their local area, they might have been the only one. It's just that the location for discussions like this has moved from usenet to mailing lists to chat rooms to IMs to Facebook.

If you're reading Slashdot you've probably been around the internet for a while. You should be the least surprised person that this is happening.

Re:Be the first to Like this big pharmaceutical! (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093382)

I don't really understand the point of pharmaceutical companies even having Facebook pages.

Because everybody wants one. For the same reason you've got those "share" buttons on every page you visit. Marketing people don't care that they're obnoxious and that nobody pays attention to them.

Re:Be the first to Like this big pharmaceutical! (4, Interesting)

Zebraheaded (1229302) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093932)

The problem isnt suppressing people from talking about negative side effects, it's that they need to be suppressed from doing it "like this". Legally, as an employee of a pharmaceutically company, I am required to report when I hear by any means of a side-effect, defect, or off-label use of one of the products manufactured by my company. The company would prefer these complaints to be filtered by doctors, not come directly from consumers. We need to spend our time investigating "My patient used drug X while taking acetominophen, and experienced heart murmurs." not "I took drug drug X and now my leg hurts real bad. (but I didnt tell you about when I fucked my leg up playing softball last weekend)." I can easily imagine many people going "My doctor told me it was all the hamburgers I eat causing my heart pain...but I think it's the anti-excema meds I take...Im going to complain on Facebook because people need to know!" Then the company ends up having to investigate a baseless claim, and improper information gets disseminated via the internet because people wil believe anyone that says "Big Pharma doesnt want you to know!"

Re:Be the first to Like this big pharmaceutical! (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094348)

I will buy that and you seem honest enough to report it but I don't think Big Pharma executives are going to rush out and investigate. I think, if anything, they'll want to bury it! And, this has been replete through recent history. Just look at the acne drug acutane that causes permanent damage to people's bodies. Unfortunately, until the importance of ethics and honesty outweigh profits, public forums need to be open for discussion.

It's all about the FDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093398)

IANAL, but my wife works in regulatory affairs for a biotech. I'm sure part of the issue is negative content but the major issue is that ANY comments whatsoever regarding drugs, side effects, efficacy,etc. would certainly run afoul of FDA regulators. The FDA regulates everything from punctuation to the size of the company logo in marketing materials. Anything that is not specifically approved that appears on a company-sponsored site could bring heavy fines.

TRANSLATION: (0, Troll)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093408)

Big Pharma is concerned that people will tell the truth about the horrible side-effects of their crazy drugs that are being pushed on us legally through doctors.

Seroquel not Antidepressant (5, Informative)

Aeiri (713218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093436)

Seroquel is NOT an antidepressant, and doctors need to stop prescribing it as if it were. Seroquel is an atypical antipsychotic, used to treat psychosis.

All of the current atypical antipsychotics have the WORST side effects imaginable (more so than antidepressants), so they need to start using them as they are designed to be used. For instance, I was on Seroquel for 1 month, and the person that took me off of it was the ER doctor that I was taken to after collapsing for no real reason.

These doctors need to stop messing around with serious medication. In my case, it was necessary, in most other cases, FFS use something else.

Re:Seroquel not Antidepressant (1)

Fished (574624) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093752)

While your comment is superficially accurate, it is also grossly misleading. Yes, Seroquel is an atypical antipsychotic. However, like all the atypical antipsychotics, it can also be used to treat other disorders, including severe depression (such as bipolar I and II.)

Re:Seroquel not Antidepressant (1)

Aeiri (713218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093902)

That's exactly my point. It may have effects that can tertiarily treat depression and bipolar, there are better medications out there such as antidepressants themselves or mood stabilizers for bipolar. These should be used first, and antipsychotics used second... but thats not how they are prescribed. I was also talking about the specific classification of the drug. The summary makes it sound like it's a SSRI.

Re:Seroquel not Antidepressant (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094290)

That's exactly my point. It may have effects that can tertiarily treat depression and bipolar, there are better medications out there such as antidepressants themselves or mood stabilizers for bipolar. These should be used first, and antipsychotics used second... but thats not how they are prescribed. I was also talking about the specific classification of the drug. The summary makes it sound like it's a SSRI.

Guess what, there are also natural ways to cure depression! You don't need to pop some pill made by Astra Zeneca or Eli Lilly to get better! If *bleep* uncle sam would get it's collective asses in gear and just legalize marijuana, it would help by quite a bit. But, I can't get the one drug (marijuana) that leaves me depression and anxiety free for 3 weeks after just one joint because the gubmint says so!

Re:Seroquel not Antidepressant (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094776)

I take it you don't have a medical degree. Why on earth are you handing out medical advice on this?

Psychiatry is a complicated practice, nobody really knows what's going on up there, but to come in and suggest that they shouldn't be prescribing something like this because it's in the wrong classification is completely ignorant. Most doctors genuinely want to help, they're not going to be prescribing Seroquel if the patients aren't getting any better or if there's something else that works better.

Re:Seroquel not Antidepressant (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094938)

Correct. I "know someone" who is using it as a sleep aid (under doctor's orders). It knocks "him" out in about 90 minutes.

Toldja (1)

Cartman's Mom (1956666) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093544)

Proof that corporations really ARE people.. They now have to worry about idiotic things that random dipshits post on their wall...Yay!!!!

No trolls today? (-1, Offtopic)

yahwotqa (817672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093554)

Wow, so many comments and no trolling from Dr. Chiropractor yet? Did he bust his spine or something?

they hear of.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093628)

Reputation.Com and shutting down their pages.

What a lame business model they are promoting.

If people post bad things about you then you probably deserve even more.

They maybe a few OCD posters/facebook/myspace/etc but the vast majority of people have something better to do that go around disparaging your *perfect* business. /rant

Social networking (2, Insightful)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093658)

There is currently no obvious way for users of a certain drug to get in contact with each other, other than taking out an ad somewhere, or starting a discussion group or whatever. A facebook page devoted to the drug seems like an obvious way to facilitate this, but I think the drug companies might not want to be the ones to make it easy for consumer groups to form around each of their products.

Re:Social networking (1)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094532)

It shouldn't be long until Facebook is rife with:

Oxy Moron likes Purdue Pharmaceutical [wikipedia.org] .

Horse Head likes Bayer [wikipedia.org] .

I suspect that things like this are at least part of the reason that the Phriendly Pharmers don't want open walls.

There are a lot of skeletons in the closets of pharmaceutical companies that have been kept from the public eye by virtue of their being sponsors on every ad-supported television network and printed publication. So unless you read books or watch PBS, you might be unaware that, for example, many of Bayer's products originated in experiments on prisoners in Nazi concentration camps.

most? (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093678)

most drug company pages will have to have open Walls

Most drug company pages? I suspect the conversation might have started with Facebook saying something like "Nice pharmaceutical page you have there... it would be a shame if something happened to it..." and some companies just couldn't afford the protection money.

It's alright Big Pharma... (1)

bornagainpenguin (1209106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37093816)

Facebook lied to us too about how they would handle our accounts, privacy, etc. You are not alone. :)

Just make a fan page (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37093870)

For "Fans of Whatever Drug (TM)". Make it clear you're not official and let people run wild.

Respect (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094138)

My respect went up for Facebook by a large margin. When Mark Zuckerberg ranted about the "necessary" end to privacy, I thought he would conveniently exclude corporations. At least this end to privacy effects corporations and individuals alike! This is as it should be.

Problem (3, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094232)

The problem with Big Pharma in America and worldwide is that the industry has no interest in a cure for a disease or condition, only symptom mitigation. Big Pharma is concerned that this true motive will get exposed via Facebook. When you take drugs to counter the side effects of other drugs, the regiment ceases to be a cure and designed to keep you buying their drugs until you die because your condition was NOT cured nor was their any interest in a cure because cures don't make money. I think Big Pharma is concerned that other "sleeping" Americans will wake up to this fact once they read about other people's experiences. Medicines were never meant to be advertised and mass marketed! They should remain solely in the realm of the physician and used at the physician's discretion. Big Pharma and doctors have gotten to cozy. I think social media is the answer to this problem.

Re:Problem (1)

cm017510 (2400266) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094384)

Well practically speaking for the Pharma Bosses it only means a dedicated armada of medi-trolls. Sure they are afraid of honest opinion.

Re:Problem (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094818)

You don't think a pharmaceutical would love to become commonly known as X Corp., inventors of the cure for skin cancer?

I realize that it's popular to be paranoid of the pharmaceutical corporations, but perhaps it has more to do with the fact that most conditions are complicated and have multiple factors which lead to them.

Unless of course, you've got evidence that this is actually a conspiracy in which case I recommend that you take that evidence to your local news organization so that they can do an expose on it.

Re:Problem (1)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37095296)

You don't think a pharmaceutical would love to become commonly known as X Corp., inventors of the cure for skin cancer?

If they could become known as that without actually doing it they would, right? Every single pharmaceutical company. Go on, try and tell me with a straight face that they wouldn't.

Web 2.0 (1)

Corson (746347) | more than 2 years ago | (#37094706)

"The industry is concerned that users might write about bad side effects, promote off-label use or make inappropriate statements about a product, and that the comments could raise concerns from government regulators." -- Well, Facebook is a Web 2.0 application, which means it's a two-way instrument of communication. If those companies only want to advertise their products then they should stick with Web 1.0.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37095306)

It's probably a good thing that they're taking down their pages. Really AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Merck have no business marketing to the public anyway. They should be marketing to doctors. They shouldn't be talking to people and telling them to go ask their doctors for drugs. If Drug X will help me with my problem, I expect my doctor to tell me about it. That's his job. I don't want to watch commericials of happy people running through the fields followed by "Ask your doctor if Bongutia is right for you." without telling me what it's for.
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