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In 2017, the us pharmaceutical industry spent about $6 billion on dtcpa, which

In 2017, the US pharmaceutical industry spent about $6 billion on DTCPA, which

stands for Direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. This kind of advertising is

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used to sell directly to the customer while evading healthcare professionals. These ads

been regulated for to make sure they aren’t sharing false or misleading information by

the FDA since 1962. Rhetorically, DTCPA allows individuals to feel more in control

about their own personal medical issues and gives them the power to make a decision

whether they want to use a particular drug based upon the information they received

from these advertisements.

People are more than likely to grasp the beginning and the end of any

information that is being thrown at them, so when marketers structure these ads, they

want to make sure they increase benefit retention and decrease the risk. With this

layout, DTCPA is able to create an effective commercial along with satisfying FDA

regulations by “putting benefit information in the first half of the commercial, side effect

information just past the middle, then benefit information again at the end” (Pickert).

For example, Lunesta is a prescription medication advertised as a sleep aid. This

paper will be centered around a Lunesta commercial advertisement that was released in

2012 by its parent company, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, and will examine the rhetorical

moves the commercial makes and the effect it has on consumers. The ad opens with a

shot of Lunesta’s signature figure — a softly glowing luna moth. The moth is seen flying

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into a lit bedroom while a woman’s voice says, “We know a place where tossing and

turning have given way to sleeping” (LUNESTA® Sleeping Pill Commercial). This is only

six seconds into the one-minute commercial, and the makers of Lunesta are already

employing a variety of rhetorical strategies. When the glowing moth enters the bedroom”,

the light switches off, creating a counterpoint between light and darkness. The

advertisement is establishing ethos through use of the word “we”,” which suggests a

group of knowledgeable people have come together to find a solution for Elliott 3

sleeplessness. Interestingly, while Lunesta’s official website states that Lunesta is only

approved to treat patients with insomnia, the opening of the ad suggests that it can be

used for anyone experiencing tossing and turning (Lunesta).

There is no doubt that the rhetoric of DTCPA is influential. Being exposed to

these ads encouraged 27% of Americans to visit their physicians to discuss conditions

that weren’t brought up in previous visitations (Ventola 672). This rhetorical ad strategy

for sleep aids, to be specific, is so effective that based on a research study that was

published in a ​New York Times ​article written by Stephanie Saul”,​ the rate of these

prescription drugs began to rise drastically between the years of 2000-2006. 60% to be

exact. The ads are so effective because they emphasize on the idea of people having

hectic lifestyles that leads to sleepiness, so in response, their ads appeal to overworked

and stressed out customers along with reiterating the benefits allowing the consumer to

have a better understanding of those instead of the even bigger risks. Another rhetorical

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device that Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising use is inconsistently attach

visuals to their correct vocal cues. What I mean by this is when the narrator mentions

the side effects of the prescription drug, there is some pleasant visual attached; a

growing tree for instance. “when visual and verbal messages are discordant, visual

messages tend to predominate” (Ventola 674), suggesting that these ads are being

constructed very carefully.

The rhetoric used for these ads have a very adverse effect on the public’s point

of view prescription drugs. In 2006, trained actors were used to represent patients that

were in need for depression treatment to conduct a trial. In this trial”,

Pickert, Kate. “Do Consumers Understand Drug Ads?” Time Magazine. 15 May

2008. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.

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