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Facebook Ready to Take a Bite Out of Pharma and Its Cash

11/1/2016 8:27:58 AM

Facebook Ready to Take a Bite Out of Pharma and Its Cash November 1, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

MENLO PARK, Calif. – Facebook marketing is a powerful tool in reaching consumers. Your feed is full of targeted and recommended advertising. Now the social media giant is looking for additional ad revenue from the pharmaceutical industry.

That means your feed of food postings, cat memes, political outrage and more, could also feature prominent ads for various prescription drugs. This morning Stat News reported how the social media company is working with the pharmaceutical industry to promote drug ads through ad placements as well as disease community pages—pages sponsored by companies that offer drugs to treat those diseases. One feature that Facebook is working out with the drug companies is turning the traditional comment sections off for these ads, Stat News said. The reason being is that those comments, which would be mostly unverified, could be considered “adverse events” that the companies failed to act upon.

All of this will certainly be a financial windfall for Facebook as it seeks to carve a slice of the more than $5 billion spent annually on pharmaceutical advertising. With Facebook’s algorithms, those ads can hit the right consumer targets for pharmaceutical companies. Facebook has about 1.7 billion monthly users and the pharmaceutical companies understand how powerful a tool the platform can be.
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To work with the pharmaceutical companies, Facebook developed a health team to provide guidance. That guidance has paid off. Stat said the first ads from aspirin-maker Bayer (BAY) are already live. The Bayer ad promotes an auto-injector for a multiple sclerosis medication, Betaseron. It’s currently the only electronic auto-injector to treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients. Currently the Bayer ads are only on Facebook’s mobile platform, Stat News said. Bayer spokeswoman Rose Talarico told Stat news that the German company “recognized a targeted, innovative opportunity to reach the community with information that was potentially relevant to them.”

In addition to the ads, the community pages, such as the “Save Your Breath” page lumps together breathing disorders, such as asthma or COPD. Currently the page, which is sponsored by AstraZeneca (AZN), has nearly 100,000 “likes.” The page administrators interact with Facebook users and answer questions, but are careful enough to direct them to doctor. However, the administrators have also freely shared their telephone number, 1-800-236-9933, with people asking about treatments, which is the information center for AstraZeneca.

Another page that Stat reported on is called the “Quitters Circle” for people who want to quit smoking. That page is sponsored by Pfizer (PFE), which makes Chantix, the drug used to help people quit smoking.

The Facebook drug ads are still in their early stages, but are likely to become more and more recognized by platform users.

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