Test your AE protocol for social media with our checklist!

Depending on the purpose of a campaign, social media could be the most useful marketing channel for companies in order to reach their target audiences. Unfortunately, due to strict laws and regulations, pharmaceutical companies cannot simply decide to use these channels. Issues such as side effects, must be reported in a timely manner. Why a protocol is indispensable and what things you should pay attention to are explained in this article. We also included a checklist to check whether everything is included in your AE protocol.

Is your AE monitoring in order? Check it with our checklist.

Until a few years ago, the use of social media for marketing purposes was often discouraged by compliance/legal officers. The public and shareable nature of the channels makes it difficult to monitor and act accurately on comments that require action.
A shame, because channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are remarkably effective for reaching patients or doctors. Not so strange, given that 93% of Dutch people over the age of 15 are active on social media and spend an average of 98 minutes there every day! For marketing purposes, you might use social media for patient-awareness campaigns or lead generation of HCPs, for example.

Why is AE monitoring in social media important?

Pharmacists are legally obliged to report side effects to the Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb (Nederlands Bijwerkingen Centrum Lareb). Failure to do so can result in fines and legal action. In addition, it can lead to significant damage to your reputation. If a patient posts a message on one of the social media channels, reporting an adverse reaction, appropriate action must be taken.
As with other organizations, involvement with messages is also consequential for pharmaceutical companies. After all, how you react to messages has a direct influence on the organization’s image. As patient reactions can reach multiple people, the correct response from your organization can turn a negative experience into a positive one!

How big are the risks of social media?

Compliance and risk management are deeply rooted in the pharmaceutical industry. It is necessary because keeping the risks as small as possible is the aim. For social media, these risks are minimal, provided you use the proper monitoring, web-care, and AE protocols. In practice, only a few percent of patients’ post reactions are about side effects. Therefore, the assumption that many new adverse effects are reported via social media is unfounded.
The protocols need to be well put together, as they define responsibilities and processes. Protocols may not be up to date. For example, due to staff changes or if people forget to add new channels.

So don't take any unnecessary risk, download the checklist (opt-in) and share it with your colleagues.

Source: Social media use figures from Newcom research.

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