Editor’s note: April Fools!

The FDA surprised the industry by rolling out detailed social media marketing guidance and a beefed up “Bad Ad” program that will use crowdsourcing to inform federal formulary access decisions.

Just days after announcing it would miss a second deadline for the hotly anticipated draft guidance, the agency reversed course. At a hastily assembled press conference Friday morning, Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications director Tom Abrams outlined the new policy.
The theme of DDMAC’s Good Guidance Practices, said Abrams, is “Back to the future.”
“We believe that companies can best offer truthful, non-misleading and balanced information on regulated products through proven technology until those products are themselves proven,” said DDMAC’s Jean-Ah Kang. “Meaning that they’ve been on the market for, say, 13 years or so.”
Accordingly, DDMAC will now require that all web pages for branded prescription pharmaceutical products be optimized for the Netscape Navigator browser. Pharmas, the agency said, may provide information about their products on Friendster, though not on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Orkut or even MySpace.
A “dislike” button, inspired by the agency’s “Bad Ad” program, will be required for all content deemed promotional, and the data generated will inform the Independent Payment Advisory Board’s recommendations for Medicare coverage. Search ads for regulated products will be required to carry a tag in flashing red script reading “WARNING! This site may harm your computer!”

In keeping with that guidance, the agency unveiled a revamped website with what Abrams hailed as a “cool retro-’90s look.” A polka band played a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as Abrams fiddled with Powerpoint slides of the site.

Abrams fired a warning shot to marketers looking to imitate the behavior of “today’s youth” in their digital communications. “Regulated industries should refrain from ‘sexting,’ whatever that is,” he declared. “It just sounds nasty. Don’t do it.”
As predicted by MM&M back in February, Abrams named former Propecia marketer and viral videotrepreneur Kevin Nalty to lead a new division dedicated to policing online marketing.
“The Internet is great for porn, toilet humor and cute pictures of small, furry animals,” said Nalty, “but disseminating information about prescription drugs? People, trust me — stick to fart jokes and we’ll all get along just fine.”