In the circles I run in, there's been a buzz about an announcement first made last December about a "partnership" between the FDA and WebMD. Yesterday the two entities announced an expansion of that partnership "to provide increased access to FDA's consumer health information."
I can appreciate the FDA's interest in reaching the public more directly with its messages.
But WebMD has turned over its "channel" - some of it marked "news" - to a government agency. Should journalists "partner" with a government agency for news and information?
And they boast that "Since the launch, over 150,000 consumers have accessed the FDA destination on WebMD ... The FDA's consumer information is also available through WebMD the Magazine, distributed ten times a year and reaching an additional 11 million consumers with each issue."
And I would remind the FDA that, while there may not be any ads on the FDA pages of the WebMD site, users are just a link away from ads on WebMD material. I just visited and quickly found myself viewing ads for drugs for fibromyalgia, depression, coronary artery disease and others. Is that appropriate for the FDA?
Something doesn't feel right about this - for either party - or for the public.
Sandy Szwarc of the Junkfood Science blog looked at this in greater detail when the partnership was first announced in December.