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  • Writer's pictureCiaran Farrelly


*This post has been edited for context. It was originally published on* When it comes to regulations, few industries are as cautious as the pharmaceutical industry. With tiering bodies in Europe, Ireland and internally all providing their own guidelines, it can be difficult to know where to start. While pharmaceutical companies are beginning to embrace digital technologies, there are still a lot of areas that cause headaches.


The IPHA Code of Practice is a key document when communicating through digital platforms. Irish pharmaceutical companies are responsible for:Any information provided from a source that is owned by an Irish branch of a pharmaceutical company. This means any websites, apps, social channels, emails or SMS.Any information aimed specifically at Irish audiences, either HCPs or patients in Ireland, regardless of the ownership of the source. Though venturing into digital communications can be daunting the basic codes for communication still apply, and the simple principle of being clear and transparent is a good one to follow. Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the content on the digital platforms that they own. When the content is static, or slow moving, as on websites, apps, email etc., this is straight forward. The more difficult scenario is on fast moving platforms, such as social media & forums.


How can companies control content on their properties on social media and forums? The short answer is they can’t. But it doesn’t mean they cannot engage on social platforms.Where companies are not able to control content on their properties, they can implement a usage policy, and are permitted to remove content that breaches these rules. There are already examples of pharmaceutical companies implementing this method.Then it becomes about monitoring content for instances of policy breaking. Where a sufficient level of monitoring is not possible, companies can look to create their own environs for discussion. This can include forums which have certain time and dates where discussion is open, or only allowing commenting on content for a certain duration after it’s posting.In short, pharmaceutical companies can engage fully with social channels. It’s about ensuring they understand the risks and control the content. If content is not controllable, set out a usage policy and monitor activity.


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