353 - Is the use of social media to discuss patient experience / present factual research / raise awareness of a particular medical condition allowed - without mention of the actual treatment, but with the name of a company mentioned?

  • It's hard to say that you can or can't use social media to do something. I'd begin by setting aside the fact that it's social media for now. The first question to ask is whether the content/activity is drug advertising. For the purposes of the Act, advertising is defined as including "any representation by any means whatever for the purpose of promoting directly or indirectly the sale or disposal of any food, drug, cosmetic or device". You can also refer to the Health Canada policy document "The Distinction Between Advertising and Other Activities". You need to consider all aspects of the content/activity, its creation, and it's audience. If the content/activity falls within the realm of advertising, then it is subject to the provisions of advertising. One potential consideration that jumps out is whether this content is a Help-seeking announcement (in which case the company logo is not permitted as per the aforementioned Health Canada document). Possibility A: It is not advertising. In this case, your next question relates to social media. Do I have the resources necessary to monitor and intervene as necessary to make sure this stays outside of the realm of drug advertising? Possibility B: It is indeed drug advertising. In this case, your next question becomes whether the content/activity adheres the regulations which apply for this audience. If the answer is yes (again after consideration of all factors) your next question is whether you have the resources to monitor and intervene as necessary to ensure it stays compliant with the applicable regulations. There are many considerations depending on the specifics of what you are doing. We'd be happy to help you through the regulatory aspects of these questions. Feel free to contact our admin team to discuss how to submit a written opinion. Also refer to the fee schedule on our website.

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