The marketing world has largely benefited from the Trump administration’s policies, said Dick O’Brien, EVP of government relations at the 4As, at the Coalition for Healthcare Communication conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday morning.

For one, the Republican tax-reform law killed an earlier proposal to reduce the percentage of advertising spending that could be written off as a business expense. The administration also quashed a proposal to change how internet services providers collect data from an opt-out to an opt-in system. Because consumers at large would likely not opt-in to data collection, the change would have made collecting data for targeting purposes extremely difficult, O’Brien explained.

Data will be a primary focus of marketers for this year, with the European Union’s GDPR regulations about to go into effect and the Cambridge Analytica scandal putting a focus on how data is collected and used.


“If 2017 was the year of taxes, 2018 is the year of data,” O’Brien said. “That’s going have an impact on our ability to collect data because the spotlight is on what data is being used for what purposes. But we have a good history of self-policing the collection of data.”

One way organizations such as the 4As are trying to get ahead of issues like privacy and fake news is by creating a standardized icon for all political ads that, when clicked, will share information about who the spot supports and who bought it.

Gottlieb’s activist tenure
At the FDA, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has had an activist first year leading the federal agency, said panelists at the Rising Leaders Conference.


His agenda has included policies covering issues from the opioid epidemic to off-label product commissions, as well as expanding Right to Try legislation, which was passed by Congress this week, and streamlining the drug-approval process.

The FDA under Gottlieb is also looking to clarify product communications like off-label communications, pre-approval communications between manufacturers and payors, and social media product promotion.

“The rules around off-label use have been unclear for some time, but there is a push clarify these rules,” said Kellie Combs, counsel for the medical information working group at law firm Ropes & Gray. “The policy folks and the medical science folks [at the FDA] do have a significant concern about companies conveying bad information to consumers and doctors. The agency is trying to strike the right balance, they’re just not moving very fast.”