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FDA Wants Drug Companies to Tweet Medication Risks Along With Benefits

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed social media guidelines that would require drug companies using Twitter to include the risks of their products along with benefits.

Experts said the guidelines would make it almost impossible for companies to tweet about the most commonly prescribed drugs.

All tweets would have to include the most serious risks associated with a drug, including those known to be fatal or life-threatening, according to ABC News. All side effects and warnings printed on approved product labeling would also have to be included, and the company would have to include links to more information about the drug’s risks and benefits. The guidelines, if approved, would go into effect in 90 days.

In the guidelines, the FDA offered a sample tweet for a fictional drug named NoFocus: “NoFocus (rememberine HCl) for mild to moderate memory loss-May cause seizures in patients with a seizure disorder www.nofocus.com/risk.”

Pfizer, which makes the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, would have to include nine potentially serious side effects. The drug also has nine potentially dangerous interactions with other medications. There are at least 14 health conditions for which Viagra is not recommended for safety reasons.

“They wouldn’t be able to do it,” said Thomas Sullivan, editor of the Policy and Medicine blog for Rockpointe, a Maryland-based medical education company. “You’re not fitting that into 140 characters.” He added, “The FDA isn’t necessarily up on the realities of social media.”

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