‘Patient influencers’ paid by Big Pharma to mislead followers: report
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Post
Posted: April 17th, 2023
There’s no better way to reach an audience today than through social media — and Big Pharma is well aware of that. The video-sharing platform TikTok, for example, is being flooded with videos of users testifying to wellness through prescription drugs, with hashtags like #adhd (22.3B views), #ozempic (675.1M views) and #wegovy (259.3M views) consistently trending. Now, experts are warning about this misleading tactic by drugmakers, in paying popular social media users to espouse their products under the guise of honest reviews, in a new study published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. These so-called patient influencers, or patient “advocates,” are social media influencers who use their platform to promote pharmaceutical medications and/or medical devices. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder analyzed 26 recent interviews with patient influencers, who had been diagnosed with conditions such as lupus, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, HIV, celiac disease, chronic migraines and perimenopause. The majority (69%) had previously collaborated with a pharmaceutical company in some way. The Federal Trade Commission mandates that influencers must disclose if they have been paid by using hashtags, such as by adding #ad or #sponsored to related posts, while the Food and Drug Administration has rules and regulations regarding what can be said on social posts. Nevertheless, many consumers fail to decipher a sponsored ad from genuine peer-to-peer advice.