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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 Seven: Social Media


c h a p t e r s e v e n Social Media THE SOCIAL MEDIA AND YOUR HEALTH Trust, we suggested in chapter 6, is the philosopher’s stone of marketing—and seemingly ever more elusive in the era of the Internet. But Web 2.0, bringing on the user-generated Internet that we call the social media, appears to promise opportunities for a new trust between individuals and groups that have never before been able to connect. And once again, for better or for worse, commerce is finding its way in, and consumers have to be on their guard. Sixty-seven percent of adult U.S. Internet users were using social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn in late 2012, according to a survey by Pew Internet (Brenner, 2013)—83% among ages 18–29, 52% in the 50–64 age range, and 32% among those aged 65+. An Ipsos survey of November 2012 translated this into a remarkable 3.8 hours a day (from a computer or mobile device) for 18–34-year- olds; 3 hours per day for 35–49-year-olds; and 2.4 hours per day for 50–64-year- olds—with women and minorities well ahead of the curve (Marketing Charts Staff, 2013a). Usage in the UK, Germany and Poland was in the same range. As of June 2013, the U.K. Office for National Statistics and Eurostat showed 48% of all UK adults using Facebook and Twitter, surpassed only by the Dutch. Even among British 65 to 74 year olds, almost one in five...

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