Just received a PR from WebMD announcing a partnership with the FDA to distribute FDA content (consumer health news and alerts) via WebMD channels (both Internet and print). This is not too dissimilar to what the FDA is currently doing with Medem, though the Medem partnership is targeting physicians and is focused on providing specialty-specific alerts (black-box warnings).
Looking at the MOU between the FDA and WebMD it is quite clear what drove the FDA to partner: gaining visibility and getting the word out. While the FDA gets some 6M visitors a month, most of those visits come from those the FDA regulates. On its Consumer Health site, the FDA sees a paltry 130K/month vs. WebMD’s 40M/month. The MOU clearly states that this is a non-exclusive agreement (as one would imagine) and what is particularly nice is that the new FDA-centric site on WebMD will not have any advertisements (probably the only place in all of WebMD.com where you won’t be buried in ads).
Taking a quick glance, looks pretty basic – several category boxes (e.g., food safety, med. devices, drugs, etc.) with a few topics each, which are just hot links to the FDA Consumer Site. Hopefully, these two will work together to improve the user experience as right now, it is very Web 1.0 and a pretty lame one at that.