Image via WikipediaTechnology Thursday
Not all technology is digital, and the other day I came across a fascinating post over at re:Cycling on a controversy over contraception. Not your usual sort of 'rightwing zealots against any and all contraception or any other kind of control women might like to have over their lives' kind of controversy. Instead, this was a controversy about marketing and mommy bloggers and FDA compliance. The short version: Mirena has persuaded some mommy bloggers [and can I just say, for the record, that I really loathe the term 'mommy blogger', but I use it, since I think the time to object has passed me by] to be evangelists at Tupperware-style parties for their product in a way that may not comply with FDA regulations.
The FDA even sent a letter to Bayer (the parent company for Mirena) outlining the violations:
"The letter identifies four different types of violations: “The program overstates the efficacy of Mirena, presents unsubstantiated claims, minimizes the risks of using Mirena, and includes false or misleading presentations regarding Mirena.”"And it got me thinking about the real complexities of things like contraception, which on the one hand are, unquestionably, a huge boon for women. But at the same time, they come with their own risks that are not always communicated well, even by medical professionals. Once you couple discussion sophisticated medical options with a community of women empowered by yet another kind of technology (blogging and the Internet), things can get complicated. Then add in a healthy dose of pharmaceutical company marketing folderol and you end up with a visit (by post, presumably) from the feds! As the writer over at re:Cycling said:
I think it’s sad that this FDA letter more accurately reflects the likely reality for many of the women who attended these parties simply by being honest about the fact that birth control has a lot of side effects that have the potential to interfere with “spontaneous intimacy” or the desire for any kind of intimacy at all. That doesn’t mean that every woman is going to experience bad side effects or that Mirena won’t help some women to be more intimate more often. It just means that the script says the party is about “looking at the whole picture”, and the whole picture is exactly what the women in attendance deserved, but it’s not what they got.Of course, mommy bloggers and women's health aren't the only areas where these kinds of risks and challenges present themselves. But I thought this small vignette was an interesting window into other kinds of technological advances and associated complexities.
Another blogger who is also a doctor recently wrote a post about these parties. Her opinion boiled down to this: “Using moms to sell pharmaceutucals? Bayer has gone too far.”