Pharma’s Bill of Rights


This post is the first in a week-long series that asks “What would the government regulate?” We’ll be talking about government concerns, healthcare scares, the impact of reform, and more.

By Sven Larsen (@zemoga)

The FDA needs to let the pharmaceutical industry provide information online. Yes, there’s been plenty of disagreement over exactly how this ought to happen, but this fact is indisputable.

It encourages transparency. It creates an environment in which pharma companies are pressured make more information public. Moreover, it gives patients vital information.

To do this, there needs to be a balance of control. The FDA needs to let go of the reins to a certain degree, yes; but also, pharma needs to let go in order to let the patient speak.

Right now, the situation is like the three monkeys – speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil. The FDA is afraid of seeing pharma companies promote off label.Pharma companies are afraid of hearing patients announce adverse reactions. Patients are afraid that nobody is helping them when they speak.
The thing is, that last one is the worst – and it’s also the one happening most often.

Maybe a Bill of Rights would help, just like the real one, but showing pharma what they are allowed to do – instead of just catching them when they do something wrong. Pharma should have the the right to…

  • Freedom of speech. The FDA should allow pharma to talk.
  • Protect own security against unreasonable intrusion by the law. Pharma should be allowed to keep its intellectual property secrets.
  • Due process of the law, including a proper trial and suitable punishment.
  • Have rights even when they’re not specifically spelled out. This is one of the biggest current problems. Pharma is afraid to act in the social media realm because it is new, and no current regulations apply to it specifically. Therefore, future regulations on the digital space should be specific enough to be workable, but general enough to apply to both current technologies and those not yet created. The communication itself is what’s important, not the platform on which it’s done.

Now it’s your turn. What rights would you give pharma? Patients? Government regulators?




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