Mar 4, 2020 - Health

Big Pharma pushing targeted Facebook ads

Facebook users are seeing more targeted ads from pharmaceutical companies — an ethical gray area for patient data and privacy, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Drug companies don't need to know your medical history to target you for a a drug, and seeing a surprisingly relevant medical ad can feel invasive.

How it works: Drug companies can use your browsing history, along with your age, gender and location, to figure out health issues you may have and market their treatment.

By the numbers: Pharmaceutical and health care brands spent nearly $1 billion dollars last year on Facebook mobile ads. Their spending has nearly tripled over two years, according to Pathmatics, an advertising analytics company.

Health privacy laws like HIPAA don't address this intersection of drug companies, data brokers and social media networks.

Go deeper: Big Tech's enormous access to patients' health data

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