UNITED STATES – As reported in an online article published by www.beckershospitalreview.com, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to study how Instagram influencers play a role in the altered perceptions of prescription drugs.
According to the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society, the FDA will spearhead two studies that examine how pharmaceutical endorsements from celebrities and social media influencers “compare to those from non-famous physicians and patients in persuading recipients to purchase medication.”
The first study will involve 654 participants who will examine print ads for fake acne medication. The print ads will be “associated with stock photos of physicians or patients” or with an unnamed celebrity who has previously been outspoken publicly about acne. The print ads will also differ from one another in that some may include a payment disclosure such as: “Endorser has been paid to appear in this ad for Drug X.”
The second study will involve approximately 700 followers of a famous un-named social media influencer “who has previously posted on Instagram about endometriosis will be shown ads for a fictitious endometriosis drug, associated with either the influencer or a stock photo of a patient.” The payment disclosure on the ads will vary with three options, one of which is a direct disclosure (such as “paid ad”), a second which has an indirect disclosure (indicating sponsored content), and a third which has no disclosure.
After evaluating the endorsements, participants in both studies will complete an online survey. The FDA’s study proposal states that in both studies, “we are interested in the role of endorsement and payment status on participants’ recall, benefit and risk perceptions, and behavioral intentions.” In the past, the FDA has issued warnings to celebrities who have released postings about pharmaceutical products on social media sites without providing an explicit disclosure indicating whether the celebrities’ endorsements were sponsored.
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