If you haven't seen it yet, FDA has a Facebook page. In fact, as of this writing, the agency had nearly 4000 "friends" and more than 150 related links on its page ( http://www.facebook.com/fda/). Among the agency's "favorite pages" are the CDC, the White House, Aids.gov, and Healthcare.gov. FDA and the US government as a whole are trying to be more transparent and open about the way they do things, but it's unclear whether a Facebook page is the right approach, or garnering the right audience.
For example, one friend of the FDA page located outside the US asks on the agency's Facebook wall, why he can't send a carton of cigarettes to his friend in New Jersey for his birthday. Others have used the site to post negative comments about regulatory policies and initiatives.
The agency has online supporters, too. One friend comments that people would not be able to trust drugs, food, cosmetics, medical devices, and more if it weren't for FDA's activities. He writes, "I would love to see how this country would operate with no FDA and no regulations." Others use the page to ask questions about drug approvals or to lobby for their own pharma or healthcare causes.To date, FDA does not seem to be responding to these comments or questions. Instead, the agency uses the page to make announcements about new initiatives, to post press releases, and so forth. FDA also has a more serious LinkedIn page and a Twitter account, the latter of which it has used to release recall alerts to the public rather quickly. Pharmaceutical Technology would like to hear your thoughts on FDA's use of social media tools and how you use them in your day-to-day work.
Angie Drakulich is the managing editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.