FDA’s COVID-19 Statements On Social Media Under Court Scrutiny

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) online assertions about the COVID-19 pandemic as well as various treatments are now under intense scrutiny over alleged misleading and inaccurate claims.

Both medical professionals and the legal system are pushing back at the agency’s Twitter statements. This led to the FDA predictably deemphasizing the importance of its social media proclamations in order to elude liability.

Claims that the much-ballyhooed vaccines can stop viral transmission have fallen away, even as FDA Commissioner Robert Califf initiated a new barrage of online declarations.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Jeffery Brown expressed his frustration with the agency, saying the “social media statements…are what bother me the most.”

Brown’s remarks came in a hearing concerning the federal government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit.

The case was brought by three doctors who asserted the FDA’s incorrect pronouncements on ivermectin have hindered their ability to treat patients and threatened their medical licenses.

Filed in June, the lawsuit alleged the FDA’s numerous tweets labeling the antiparasitic dangerous for human treatments are false. The Justice Department characterized the social media postings as “informal” recommendations that all are free to ignore.

Judge Brown countered that the FDA statements lacked “qualifiers” over ivermectin’s use in humans and the agency’s position.

The FDA already faced staunch pushback over its approval earlier this year of a vaccine for children under five years old. At best there has been a lukewarm response as most parents weighed the risk and reward factors and decided to sit this one out.

A similar result came after the agency’s nod last month for COVID-19 vaccine boosters for children five years old and above. Last year the FDA gave the go-ahead for a first round of vaccines for ages five to 11.