Emory Corporate Governance and Accountability Review


Americans are barraged by an endless flow of ads that claim to remedy medical maladies with prescribed drugs. The commercials depict productive and happy lives, with suggestive associations that human flourishing can be achieved via pharmaceutical intervention. The appeals are accompanied by an exhaustive inventory of potentially negative life-altering side effects. As ads end with this depiction of relational bliss through drug use, viewers hear a fast-paced listing of monotone non-segmented disclaimers, which can range from modest impacts (e.g., slight weight gain) to very serious implications (e.g., suicidal ideations). Research suggests that hearing about the risks of use may increase consumers' trust in the advertising. Sufferers may also conclude that stronger means better (i.e., helping them more effectively manage their condition). When it comes to health, consumers tend to mitigate the risk of taking drugs. Cognitive dissonance fuels a process of rationalizing side effects as part of the cost of wellbeing.