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the other drug war

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Pre-Viewing Lesson Plan
  • Media Messages
  • Student Handout: Key Concepts in Media Literacy
  • Student Handout: Prescription Drug Advertising

  • Viewing Lesson Plan
  • Student Viewing Guide
  • Student Handout: Questions for Viewing
  • Student Handout: Key Terms and Definitions

  • Post-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • The Rest of the Story
  • Great Debates

  • Supplementary Activities

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    » Pre-Viewing Lesson Plan

    Media Messages

    » Lesson Objectives:

    Students will learn key concepts of media literacy and consider how these concepts apply to prescription drug advertising.

    » Materials Needed:

    » Time Needed:

    One class period

    » Background:

    Though consumers complain about the high costs of prescription drugs, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a trade association representing pharmaceutical and biotech companies, argues that high prices are necessary to fund the expensive process of researching and developing new drugs. Industry analyst Richard Evans, however, tells FRONTLINE that 16 cents of every dollar spent on prescriptions goes into advertising -- more than the drug companies spend on research and development.

    Prescription drug advertising is one of the main issues presented in "The Other Drug War." Drug companies spend millions of dollars on marketing. Their efforts include direct-to-consumer radio and television commercials, as well as practices that target doctors, such as giving them free samples given to increase the likelihood that name brands handed out to patients will become the drugs of choice.

    » Procedure:

    1. Prior to showing "The Other Drug War" in class, direct your students to analyze some direct-to-consumer drug advertising. If possible, make a short video of drug advertisements from television, including ads for both prescription and over-the-counter drugs that treat ailments such as arthritis, gas, and the common cold. (You could also ask student volunteers to make the tapes.) Show the video in class.

    2. Hand out the assignment sheet Prescription Drug Advertising and ask students to answer the questions independently. You may want to bring in some drug advertisements from magazines. Students can also bring in magazines from home or from the school's library or learning center. They can examine these ads as they answer the worksheet questions.

    3. Either create small groups for discussion or bring the class together to discuss their worksheet answers.

    4. Give your students the handout, Concepts in Media Literacy. Discuss the principles of media literacy with your class, and ask how each concept applies to the ads they have discussed.

    Note: The principles of media literacy provided on the handout are concepts that are generally accepted by U.S. media educators. You can find more information about these concepts at the California Newsreel Web page and an Appalachian State Web page created by media literacy Professor David Considine.

    » Method of Assessment

    1. Collect student assignment sheets.
    2. Evaluate student participation in class discussion.

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