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Hundreds of advertising, marketing and public relations executives have gathered in Washington, D.C. today for FDA public hearings on “Promotion of FDA-Regulated Medical Products Using the Internet and Social Media Tools.” The hearings are just one step in the FDA’s process to develop policy and guidelines for pharmaceutical companies looking to use social media to promote their products.

“What’s happening is these new media are emerging at an increasingly rapid rate, and are being regulated by an agency that moves very slowly…In essence, you have a regulatory communication crisis developing,” attorney Mark Senak, who advises drug companies as a consultant for Fleishman-Hillard, told the Associated Press.

PR executives speaking at the hearings include Peter J. Pitts, Partner/Director, Global Healthcare, Porter Novelli, Peter Nalen, President, Compass Healthcare Communications, Rick Wion, Vice President of Social Media, GolinHarris, Rohit Bhargava, Senior Vice President, Digital, Strategy & Planning Group, Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence and John Bell, President of the Board of Word of Mouth Marketing Association and Managing Director, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

A full list of speakers is available via the FDA’s website, in addition to a live video stream of the hearings. Naturally, there is also a Twitter hash-tag, #fdaSM.