Health literacy in DTCA 2.0

Digital and social media frontiers

Authored by: Ashli Quesinberry Stokes

The Routledge Companion to Advertising and Promotional Culture

Print publication date:  March  2013
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415888011
eBook ISBN: 9780203071434
Adobe ISBN: 9781135095574


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Today's consumers 1 encounter direct to consumer advertising (DTCA), or “any promotional effort by a pharmaceutical company to present prescription drug information to the general public and the lay media,” more than any other type of health communication (Huh, DeLorme, and Reid 2005: 569; Kuehn 2010). Statistics regarding DTCA exposure and expenditures are staggering. In 2008, sales of the top 15 prescriptions surpassed $290 billion, meaning that every dollar spent on DTCA generated $4.20 in increased sales, outpacing the return of even the fast food industry (Howard 2009; Weintraub 2007). Doctors wrote 164 million prescriptions for antidepressants in 2008, with the number of consumers taking these products doubling since 2000 (“Depression: Pharmaceutical Direct” 2010). Although some still debate how much these statistics can be linked directly to DTCA (Winstein 2008), the web now provides a new frontier in populating the health information landscape.

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