Monday, 3 february 2020 | Redacción CEU
We use social platforms as part of our daily routine. We have conversations with our friends and family members on WhatsApp, find old classmates on Facebook, check what the trending topic is on Twitter or get to know what our idols’ new proposals are on Instagram. We do all this easily, with a simple search on the Internet. These virtual environments are changing the way we communicate, but also the way we see the world. Its scope is such that no social or professional sphere can stand aside from the development of social networking sites. This is one of the reasons why, sometimes, the boundaries are quite easy to cross. A recent example: the case of drugs recommendations made by some influencers.
The breathtaking boom of social networking sites has altered many of the established paradigms in the last years. Specifically, the advertising sector has undergone one of the deepest changes. The world of marketing has been forced to reinvent itself, in order to connect with an audience that spends considerable time on a social and digital environment. One of the new strategies that the sector has found to face this new reality is the hiring of influencers. As a general rule, these virtual celebrities boast a large number of followers with whom they are on friendly terms, and communicate naturally. These influencers serve as an ideal means for brands to launch effective messages, promote their products and, thus, reach their dream audience.
The secret of their power of attraction is mainly due to their proximity and naturalness. However, this feature may be precisely the Achilles heel for some of them. Needless to say, true influencers are not constantly advertising products, since if they do so, they may end up losing the spontaneity that makes them unique and, consequently, their followers. Much of their activity consist of explaining or making visible their lifestyle and serving as reference figure in whatever their field is (makeup, fashion, art, books, etc.). This fact leads them frequently to take a stand on certain topics or give some recommendations. The problem: both might have negative consequences.
A few months ago, the General Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges warned of the possible impact that some of the recommendations made by some influencers could have on the health of their followers. It did so after detecting the growing demand for a specific wipes brand in Spanish pharmacies after being recommended in some influencers’ videos. In this particular case, the drug was an antibiotic that required a medical prescription to buy it. That also means that its advertising was strictly prohibited.
Given this context, together with the appearance of some websites that sell drugs and health products and offer users online treatment advice, the General Council of Official Pharmaceutical Colleges, the General Council of Official Medical Associations and the General Council of Dental Associations decided to issue a statement on November. In it, they explained that doctors, dentists and podiatrists are the only professionals who are authorized to prescribe drugs and health products that require a prescription. They highlighted the fact that pharmacists are the only competent professionals for their informed dispensation, as long as the patients give them their corresponding prescription. In turn, they also claimed that this should be done: by ensuring the compliance with the guidelines established by the specialists who are responsible for the patients in the prescriptions and cooperating in the follow-up of the treatments through the pharmaceutical care procedures.