The FDA is taking a unique approach to raising awareness for prescription drug abuse.
According to their new guidelines (that have still yet to be set in stone), companies that manufacture and sell prescription drugs might have to use their 140 characters on Twitter to warn the public about prescription drug-related risks.
The FDA's proposal makes it so the most dangerous side effects must be tweeted, as well as any and all dangers that come printed on the actual prescription bottle. There is already some backlash on this idea, but I have my own opinions on it and how this could work.
For starters, I think this is a good idea -- not a great idea, but definitely a good one. Any which way you look at it, the FDA is utilizing one of the most popular forms of social media to raise awareness about the dangers that come with prescription drugs, and I think it's an amazing start. If this proposed idea is put into motion, it would be interesting to see how effective it truly is in helping prevent prescription drug abuse in users. I think it will help people -- how many people, I am not sure, but even if it helps just one person, it is worth it.
On the other hand, I'm not fully sold on the idea that this is the best way to educate the public about prescription drug abuse. Yes, it is helpful, but when you look at the bigger picture, it's going to take more than just Twitter to change the way people view prescription drug abuse (especially if you are trying to squeeze so much important information into a small space). I think a more beneficial way to address this growing epidemic is through other media outlets, such as television for example. I would love to see more television segments and specials devoted to talking about these dangers.
I understand that society has become so fast-paced that it is easy to get caught up in a prescription drug abuse problem -- especially when the time and effort isn't being taken to learn about the dangers that come with these types of drugs -- and that Twitter can be a good way to reach out to those busy people. Unfortunately, I feel that many people look at prescription drugs like a simple fix to their problems, and often times don't do the legwork (such as therapy) that is often most helpful when taking a medication to treat a mental health condition. This is usually what gets people hooked to meds, and keeps this epidemic growing.
Going forward I must say that it is refreshing to see the FDA put together a plan to help raise awareness as opposed to mask these very real dangers. Unfortunately, I don't feel that the government as a whole is fully behind addressing this issue just yet. Maybe it is because the prescription drug epidemic is so popular that it is one of the biggest profiting "businesses" in the country? Possibly. I hope to see a shift in the government's focus that puts the attention on stopping the prescription drug problem as opposed to cashing in on it.