More physicians and patients are turning to social media to research new medical devices, as well as sharing their experiences and knowledge within the community. Engaging with end users through an active, targeted social media presence enables medical device manufacturers to improve their brand recognition and loyalty. But what are the regulatory trends?

Listed below are the key regulatory trends impacting the social media industry in medical devices, as identified by GlobalData.

FDA guidance on the use of social media

Social media platforms have become one of the most popular ways for drug and medical device manufacturers to engage with consumers and healthcare professionals. The FDA tightly regulates the advertising of FDA-regulated drugs and devices.

There are currently four guidance documents, covering topics on: character space limitations presenting risk and benefit information, correcting independent third-party misinformation, fulfilling regulatory requirements for post-marketing submissions, and responding to unsolicited requests for off-label information.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

In May 2018, the GDPR was issued, providing protection and control over personal data for individuals in the EU.

This regulation highlights several specific regulations pertaining to social media marketing. Under the GDPR, companies must obtain explicit opt-in consent from customers in order to track their behaviour or use their data for advertising.

As the concern surrounding the security of personal health-related data continues to heighten, the new data privacy regulation will provide security and allow more control over individuals’ shopping experiences.

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The Great Firewall of China (GFW)

The GFW, enforced by the People’s Republic of China, regulates the internet and its content in China. It limits access to information sources and blocks access to selected websites and mobile apps.

Social media in China is monitored closely, and posts deemed as violating policy are taken down, or are auto-blocked based on keywords and reviewed. Major foreign social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked.

However, the GFW acts as a significant barrier to medical device companies looking to expand in the Chinese market. Manufacturers should utilise social media leaders such as Sina Weibo, to engage with Chinese consumers.

Increased concern over social media presence globally

The rapid increase in social media usage across the world has prompted countries to take action toward protecting the data privacy rights of individuals. While Canada is considering new regulations, India and the UK have recently proposed social media regulations.

As governments begin to monitor social media content, medical device manufacturers are cautioned about advertising on these platforms, particularly avoiding misleading information on government-regulated drugs and devices.

This is an edited extract from the Social Media in the Medical Device Industry – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.