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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 Nine: How to Use a Prescription Drug Website


c h a p t e r n i n e How to Use a Prescription Drug Website So far, we have described how prescription drugs have been promoted directly to consumers, how prescription drug websites have been designed, how the FDA and other stakeholders function, and how prescription drug websites could be transformed to be more informative, balanced, and useful for consumers. In this chapter, we give some practical advice for how consumers can evaluate and use prescription drug websites for becoming more informed and for making decisions about their health care. KNOW YOURSELF Our first suggestion is to know yourself. How do you like to obtain information? How do you like to make decisions? How involved do you want to be in making decisions about your health? How have you been vulnerable to making decisions that you later realized might not have been the best ones? We propose that the more you know about yourself when it comes to processing information and mak- ing decisions, the better off you will be when it comes to looking at prescription drug websites and when it comes to talking about prescription drugs with others. Most people want to make the best decisions in their lives but with the min- imum amount of effort. There are some decisions that we make based on what 152 | a screenful of sugar? prescription drug websites investigated we’ve done in the past. For example, if you buy a certain brand of breakfast cereal and like it,...

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