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From Snake Oil to Social Media: Pharmaceutical Advertising and Medication Literacy for Health Care Consumers

Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) for prescription drugs has been an ongoing, contentious issue in the United States. Despite oversight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a call from the American Medical Association (AMA) to ban DTCA, pharmaceutical manufactures continue to spend over six billion dollars annually on consumer-facing television, print, and internet advertising.1,2 This educational initiative brings together librarians and archivists from Weill Cornell Medicine’s (WCM) Samuel J Wood Library and pharmacists from New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell to create an asynchronous interactive webpage-based online workshop on historical and modern methods of pharmaceutical advertising, enduring issues in medication regulation and safety, and the ongoing importance of patient engagement, advertising & medication literacy. Created using the Drupal content management platform, the workshop website will be hosted within the WCM Library’s webpage and will feature text narratives, video vignettes, timelines, and images, including exposure to digitized 19th century historical medical trade cards and interactive guided analysis of modern advertising practices. Insights and imagery drawn from WCM’s archival collections will be juxtaposed against those found in modern day pharmaceutical advertisements. This digital content will culminate with resources to bolster participants’ advertising and medication literacy including, presenting key questions consumers should ask when viewing medication advertisements, reputable consumer-focused online drug information sources from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the FDA, and methods to facilitate discussions with their health care provider, pharmacist, or librarian.
Identify any specific population(s) this project will serve: 
Adults
Men
Seniors
Women
Urban
African Americans or Black
Asian
Identify roles of participants this project will serve: 
General public
Health care provider
Historian
Library or information professional
Student, college & post-grad
Project Lead:
Keith Christopher Mages
Funding Source: 
MAR
Project Funding:
Federal Fiscal Year: 
2020
Funding Amount: 
$17063
Funding Period:
Jun 9, 2020 to Apr 30, 2021
Project Status:
Awarded