Regulating Drug Promotion on the Internet
Issue: 54 Food and Drug Law Journal 599-622 (1999).
When the ban on commercial traffic on the Internet was lifted in 1991, drug manufacturers joined other commercial enterprises in promoting their products on-line. As the popularity of the new medium grew, so too did the number of drug manufacturers with a presence on the Internet. But regulation designed for traditional media did not translate easily to the Internet, and wild drug claims began to proliferate unchecked. At a 1996 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conference regarding drug promotion on the Internet, FDA officials stated their intent to develop comprehensive guidance for on-line drug promotion. This article addresses FDA's efforts, examines the obstacles that have prevented the agency from issuing comprehensive guidance to date, and sketches an outline for proposed FDA regulation of drug promotion on the Internet.