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A Screenful of Sugar?

Prescription Drug Websites Investigated


Jon C. Schommer and Lewis H. Glinert

With drug information rapidly migrating to the Web, the chronically poor standards of drug information available to consumers in the developed and the developing world are being further compromised. This book offers insight into the uncharted waters of prescription drug information and promotion on the internet and suggests how it might be transformed into an unprecedented agent for good. It traces the social and political history of prescription drug information and marketing to Western consumers, offers a social and communicative profile of prescription drug Web sites, and evaluates the most widely used sources of prescription drug information, from government organizations and information companies and TV-related sites, to health service provider sites, manufacturers’ brand sites, and social media, including YouTube and Wikipedia. The focus throughout is on practical outcomes: How can information for consumer decision making be optimized and how can consumers use it responsibly?


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Chapter Two: Welcome to a Prescription Drug Site


c h a p t e r t w o Welcome to a Prescription Drug Site WHO USES PRESCRIPTION DRUG SITES, HOW AND WHY? A single decade has seen sweeping changes in the way consumers use the Internet and what they read there about their health. The numbers of people with 24/7 broadband connection has soared. Audio and video content is as common as the written word. Many now spend more time with their iPads and smart phones on the Mobile Web than they do on the ‘traditional’ Web. The ways of adding your own individual voice to the Web have multiplied, and countless people are sharing theirs, via blogs, forums, YouTube, Facebook, tweets and the rest—the so-called social media. The power of search engines and wikis sits astride all this information, seemingly fashioning it into instant intelligence. Reading health advice plays a valued part in life online. The Pew American Life survey of Internet use in 2013 (Fox & Duggan, 2013) reported that 59% of American adults had looked online for health information in the past year. Thirty-five percent said they had gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. And the experience was ap- parently quite a positive one. According to an American Life survey of 2011, 30% of American adults said that they, or someone they knew, had been helped by 30 | a screenful of sugar? prescription drug websites investigated following health information on the Web. Just 3%...

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