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You raise a very important point about the value of health literacy. Through years of social media analysis, I have seen time and again that patients too often just don't digest the information they are given by physicians in those key office visits. As a result, their expectations are not properly set. Without an understanding of known side effects, the result can be that patients don't take the medication as directed or discontinue altogether. As you point out, health literacy is key to bridging this gap.
Your first point -- "For some outside the industry, the hearings appear little more than a push by pharma companies to promote their drugs through yet another channel" -- is right on the mark. I have been a little frustrated by this view, but I'm starting to realize why it appears that way looking in from the outside. I still believe it is vital for pharmaceutical companies to gain a voice in social media, and I am hopeful that these hearings will be a major catalyst in getting us there!
Toggle Commented Nov 16, 2009 on FDA Social Media Hearings, Day 1 at HealthEd Blog