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Who Can Resist A Kardashian FDA DTC Story?

August 15, 2015 by Bob Ehrlich0

I kid you not. Kim Kardashian is the subject of an FDA warning letter to a drug company. OMG, and LOL! WTF! Kim decided to post on Instagram how great this morning sickness pill worked. It is called Diclegis from Duchesnay. Kim is paid to promote the drug but is not quite up to speed on fair balance requirements.

Bob Ehrlich
“Even Kim must have boundaries…” -Bob Ehrlich

Kim, inexplicably to this old writer, has over 42 million followers. I am embarrassed to say I can name all the Kardashians and watched the first episode of Cait. So their spell has power over all of us.

The FDA does not like a celebrity paid by the drug company touting a brand’s benefits without discussing risks and side effects. Kim neglected to mention those in her glowing post and thus FDA, who is likely filled with Kardashian fans, caught wind of it. In what must be their most bizarre warning letter, they told the powers at Duchesnay that even Kim must have boundaries. Americans depend on Kim for advice on many matters. A person with such gravitas is expected to tell American women all the risks and side effects when she discuses a morning sickness pill.

So Kim may be expected to do a corrective post. She most likely will have to hold the risks page up for a selfie. Kanye may have to write a rap song with the most common side effects. Who knows what FDA will require to undo the damage Kim has done.

This is not the first celebrity to violate fair balance rules. It might be the first doing it on Twitter and Instagram. What it should teach drug companies is that celebrities may not be the easiest folks to train to stick to FDA regulations. Paying Kim to promote a drug has more risks than paying her to appear at a night club.

Of course the irony here is that FDA, by making a stink out of this, has had Kim’s errant post appear in every news feed this week from every major media outlet. I was interviewed by the Washington Post yesterday on this subject. I am not saying the warning letter was wrong, just that when it involves a Kardashian it gets airtime. So the drug maker gets massive publicity on the brand. I never heard of the drug until I saw the story.

FDA should recognize that social media is very hard to regulate. Their glacial response to the existence of new media has created a problem. While they should expect consumers to receive fair balance they cannot really demand the same level of detail as in print. If they overly restrict communication they prevent consumers from getting good information. I know they will try to be restrictive but they need to adapt their regulations to new realities.

Yes, Kim messed up and so did the drug company. But let’s be candid here. If Kim had added all the fair balance as required would it make any difference to her audience? Would they read past her first line? Maybe in these type of social media promos FDA should require a one line catchall warning that says all drugs have side effects and risks and a link can take the reader to those. That might get more attention than a litany of risks no one would read.

Bob Ehrlich


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