Pharma emerging markets: what about Latin America and social media usage of pharma companies?

Valentina Jaramillo

Investigacion Clinica Latam

Continued from “Pharma emerging markets: what is Latin America’s place within R&amp,D?

Recently we have seen a lot of movement around the FDA and its policies for the Pharma industry in the use of Social Media. Whether we agree or disagree or think their guidelines could be better at least it is a start.

“Are the regulatory agencies in Latin-American waiting for a final draft of FDA policies so they can implement them?”

I’ve done some research to see where Latin America stands on this area and sadly we are far behind. There are no specific regulations yet for what pharma can or cannot do using social media in the different countries of the region. There’s not much activity of the pharma industry in this territory either. Does it have to do with a corporate policy to handle Europe and the US first and then see how Latin-American can catch up? Is it because we (Latin-Americans) are scared to step up and start using social media within the pharma industry thus making the regulatory agencies in the region reluctant to create any guidelines yet? Are the regulatory agencies in Latin-American waiting for a final draft of FDA policies so they can implement them?

These and many more questions come to mind when I think about the use of social media by pharma companies in Latin-American. There are several interesting projects being carried out by pharma companies using social media in Europe and the US, for example we have Johnson &amp, Johnson, Psoriasis 360 by Jansen-Cilag, Novartis collaboration with PatientsLikeMe and many more. However we don´t see the same in Latin America. Meanwhile, the community of doctors and patients using social media in the region is growing every day, so is pharma missing an opportunity?

“…the community of doctors and patients using social media in the region is growing every day, so is pharma missing an opportunity?”

Latin America is one of the more social regions in the world, according to Comscore in January 2011, 88% of internet users in the region use social media, six of the fifteen principal markets of Facebook are located in Latin-American. Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina are in the top seven countries with the highest Twitter usage. These numbers suggest that pharma companies might be interested in engaging in social media in this region. However, it appears to not be the case, or if it is it is happening it is happening very quietly and goes unnoticed which is the opposite of how social media should work.

This post is a call to attention to the pharma industry to start using social media in Latin America in a sensitive but proactive way because in my personal opinion there are great things to accomplish if pharmasdecides to engage in this way. This is also a call to attention to Latin-American’s regulatory agencies to make them aware of what is to come I hope pharma industries in Latin-American take a stand in the use of social media so that we can start answering all the questions raised.

The next piece in this series can be viewed here.

About the authors:

Valentina Jaramillo DVM is co-founder of Investigacion Clinica Latam. She is also founder and moderator of the twitter hashtag #hcsmla. She can be contacted at vale.jaramillo@gmail.com.

Do you think it’s time for Latin-American pharma to engage with social media?