Dilbert, Roche, Lilly Grapple with Social Media

Drug manufacturers have been coming to grips with how to leverage social media, from Tweets to blogs, without overstepping the bounds of compliance. Johnson & Johnson and a number of companies have taken the lead, as our Senior Editor for Digital Media Michele Vaccarello Wagner has written.

And FDA has weighed in, but only to a modest degree. This month, Michele's column looks at how Roche has stepped in to fill the void and attempts to instruct its employees as to how they must conduct themselves on social media, whether officially representing their company or not.

Lilly, too, has become more proactive and comprehensive in its social media approach. Referencing Dilbert's recent foray into the topic of social media, Lilly has just started up a blog, LillyPad, as a "Place for Policy and Perspectives on Health Care Innovation." The site pledges to be both informative and, on occasion, "fun" for readers.

Obviously, the contributors to LillyPad will exercise caution and toe the party line on health care matters, but I hope that the new site at least gives the manufacturer one more outlet by which it can more openly communicate with the public, and perhaps push the envelope a bit on candor and creativity. (Its post of yesterday, "The Importance of Science and Math Education," is laudable but does not instill confidence that this will happen any time soon.)

--Paul Thomas