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Direct-to-consumer prescription drug websites for stigmatized illnesses
Unformatted Document Text:  together: 20 websites (22.7 percent) with the three components together, four websites (4.5 percent) with the both onset controllability and offset controllability, 17 websites (19.3 percent) with both onset controllability and recategorization, seven websites (8.0 percent) with both offset controllability and recategorization. Discussion This study evaluated whether DTC prescription drug websites for stigmatized illnesses contained stigma-reducing components. Based on the analysis of 88 DTC prescription drug websites, we found that about half of websites did not contain any stigma-reducing components at all either by textual or visual cues. Moreover, there are very few websites contained the three components together. The results indicated that websites for DTC prescription drugs offered only limited social benefits for reducing stigma. While print and television ads are oriented to make consumers aware of a drug in a limited space and time, as well as being required to meet FDA’s regulatory guidelines on DTC print ads (FDA 2004) and television ads (FDA 1999), websites are not hindered by a lack of air time or print space. However, results of the current study show that websites are under-utilized as a secondary information source, particularly in disseminating stigma-reducing information. In fact, the finding that only 69.3 percent had web pages dedicated to the disease information indicates a limited educational benefit, despite people’s growing interest in seeking out disease information on the Internet. These DTC prescription drug websites placed a higher emphasis on the drugs, rather than providing relevant disease information. As Macias and Lewis’s (2003) study shows, many DTC prescription drug websites frequently use monetary inducements such as rebates, discount coupon and money-back guarantee. Moreover, as Huh and 20

Authors: Kang, Hannah. and An, Soontae.
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together: 20 websites (22.7 percent) with the three components together, four websites (4.5 
percent) with the both onset controllability and offset controllability, 17 websites (19.3 percent) 
with both onset controllability and recategorization, seven websites (8.0 percent) with both offset 
controllability and recategorization. 
Discussion 
This study evaluated whether DTC prescription drug websites for stigmatized illnesses 
contained stigma-reducing components.  Based on the analysis of 88 DTC prescription drug 
websites, we found that about half of websites did not contain any stigma-reducing components 
at all either by textual or visual cues. Moreover, there are very few websites contained the three 
components together. 
The results indicated that websites for DTC prescription drugs offered only limited social 
benefits for reducing stigma. While print and television ads are oriented to make consumers 
aware of a drug in a limited space and time, as well as being required to meet FDA’s regulatory 
guidelines on DTC print ads (FDA 2004) and television ads (FDA 1999), websites are not 
hindered by a lack of air time or print space. However, results of the current study show that 
websites are under-utilized as a secondary information source, particularly in disseminating 
stigma-reducing information.  
In fact, the finding that only 69.3 percent had web pages dedicated to the disease 
information indicates a limited educational benefit, despite people’s growing interest in seeking 
out disease information on the Internet. These DTC prescription drug websites placed a higher 
emphasis on the drugs, rather than providing relevant disease information. As Macias and 
Lewis’s (2003) study shows, many DTC prescription drug websites frequently use monetary 
inducements such as rebates, discount coupon and money-back guarantee. Moreover, as Huh and 
20


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