An Instagram post by Kim Kardashian promoting Diclegis, a morning-sickness pill, yielded a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month. The FDA was concerned, it said, because Kardashian’s post didn’t include potential side effects for Diclegis. In 2015, in the age of the Internet, such side effects are easy to find. Any argument about the “digital gap” is irrelevant here. If you saw a post on Instagram, you have Internet access. If you have Internet access, you have Google.
So what did Kim Kardashian’s corrective ad say? Bloomberg reports:
“I guess you saw the attention my last #morningsickness post received,” Kardashian wrote as the VMAs, which she attended, were kicking off in Los Angeles. Kardashian’s original post included links to websites with disclosures about the risks of the drug, Diclegis, which was approved in 2013 to treat morning sickness for women who don’t respond to more conservative measures.
The rest of Kardashian’s post was the kind of boilerplate risk information that voice actors speed through in the final seconds of TV drug ads: “Diclegis has not been studied in women with hyperemesis gravidarum,” or extreme, persistent. She also included warnings about interactions with other medications and alcohol, as well as side effects like drowsiness.
Kardashian, or her publicists, showed some cunning. The post went up just as the MTV Video Music Awards started, the equivalent of a Friday night news dump for celebrity social media. At the award show, her husband, Kanye West, announced he’d run for president in 2020. Maybe he’ll take on the FDA’s war on commercial speech. Maybe asking celebrities to be aware of the public policies they get entangled in on a regular basis is too much to ask when there’s signaling at stake.