FTC Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

I have been studying this carefully (at the link above). Here’s the “blogging” example from the document:

Example 8: A consumer who regularly purchases a particular brand of dog food decides one day to purchase a new, more expensive brand made by the same manufacturer. She writes in her personal blog that the change in diet has made her dog’s fur noticeably softer and shinier, and that in her opinion, the new food definitely is worth the extra money. This posting would not be deemed an endorsement under the Guides. Assume that the consumer gets it for free because the store routinely tracks her purchases and its computer has generated a coupon for a free trial bag of this new brand. Again, her posting would not be deemed an endorsement under the Guides. Assume now that the consumer joins a network marketing program under which she periodically receives various products about which she can write reviews if she wants to do so. If she receives a free bag of the new dog food through this program, her positive review would be considered an endorsement under the Guides.

What I don’t understand is how this impacts physicians or care providers who may blog/tweet about the care they provide within practices or health systems – i.e. they are not being paid specifically to blog or tweet, but are doing so within the context of their employment. I assume that disclosing the employment relationship fulfills the requirement, which is designed to help people evaluate the information critically.

If anyone has looked at this in the context of health care, please feel free to add your comments below.

My employment relationship and statements of independence and conflict of interest are on my About page. In addition, I typically tag posts that are relevant to my employer. Feedback always accepted if these are not clear or could be improved.

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Ted Eytan, MD