About Us, Downloadable Content & Works Cited

About Us:  

Snake Oil to Social Media Project Summary

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. This educational initiative brought 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 is hosted within the WCM Library’s webpage and features 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 are juxtaposed against those found in modern day pharmaceutical advertisements. This digitized content culminates with resources to bolster participants’ advertising and medication literacy including, 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 health care providers, pharmacists, or consumer health librarians.

Developed resources reported in this project are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012342 with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. 

Snake Oil to Social Media Project Team


Keith C. Mages PhD, MLS, MSN, RN, AHIP 

Project Lead; Design & Lead Historical Content Education  

Dr. Keith Mages is the Curator of the University at Buffalo's Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection. The Snake Oil Project was developed prior to his current position, while he was the Norton M. Luger, MD Clinical Medical Librarian at the Samuel J. Wood Library of Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM). In his Clinical Librarian role, Dr. Mages provided research and evidence-based practice support to practicing physicians, nurses, medical fellows, residents and students. Dr. Mages also provided caregiver and consumer health education at the point of care, in New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell (NYP/WC). He is a member of the Medical Library Association (MLA), is an Senior Member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP), and has been awarded the Presidential Award from the MLA Board of Directors for his work on the Educational Steering Committee, the coordinating body for MLA educational initiatives. Dr. Mages also served on the NYP/WC Ethics Committee, as an Ethics Faculty Tutor at WCM, and as an Adjunct Faculty member of New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing. His publication and funding record reflects his research interests in health literacy, consumer health education, and the history of health sciences.  

Dr. Mages has a B.S. in Nursing and M.L.S. in Library & Information Science from the University at Buffalo – SUNY, a M.S.N. in Advanced Practice Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing from Yale University, as well as a Ph.D. in the History of Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.  

He can be reached at: kcmages@buffalo.edu

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Nicole J. Milano, MA  

Archival Content Oversight and Management, Co-Design, Historical Content Education    

Nicole J. Milano, MA is the head of the Medical Center Archives at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine, tasked with preserving and creating accessibility to more than 7,000 linear feet of archival material documenting the history of the organization from 1771 to the present. Ms. Milano also serves as an instructor in the Archives and Public History graduate program at New York University. Ms. Milano is active in numerous professional organizations, including serving as a member of the Publications Board of the Society of American Archivists since 2012, where she has assisted in bringing many manuscripts to publication and currently serves as the co-creator and host of its new professional podcast, Archives in Context. She is also co-editor of the 2020 manuscript Engagement in the Digital Era (Society of American Archivists,) and served as editor of 22 primary source-intensive lesson plans entitled The Volunteers: Americans Join World War I, 1914-1919, which were endorsed by both the U.S. and French World War I centennial commissions in 2016. Ms. Milano was also in the 2018 cohort of the Archives Leadership Institute, a highly selective program that recognizes emerging leaders in the archival community. 

Ms. Milano received her B.A. and M.A. in History from the University of Florida and an Advanced Certificate in Archives from New York University 

She can be reached at:  njm280@nyu.edu 

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Sarah S. Smith, Pharm.D., BCPS 

Co-Design & Contemporary DTCA Awareness Educational Content

Dr. Sarah Smith is board certified pharmacotherapy specialist with nearly two decades of experience in the areas of pediatric medicine, education and clinical practice. Dr. Smith is currently an Associate Professor-Industry Professional in the Department of Clinical Health Professions at St. John’s University. At the Komansky Children’s Hospital at Weill Cornell Medical Center she works in general pediatrics and trains student pharmacist in this setting. Prior to coming to St. John’s Dr. Smith was the Executive Director of Experiential Education at Sullivan University College of Pharmacy. In addition to having served on university institutional review boards, she served on the ASHP Section Advisory Group (SAG) on Preceptor Skills Development and the A.S.P.E.N. Abstract Review Committee. Dr. Smith is also an active member of the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group and the New York City Society of Health Systems Pharmacists. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy from University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. 

She can be reached at:  sas9290@nyp.org 

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Judy C. Stribling M.A., M.L.S., AHIP 

Patient Resource Center Engagement and Promotional Activity Consultation 

Judy Stribling was the Assistant Director of Clinical Services at the Samuel J. Wood Library & C.V. Starr Biomedical Information Center at Weill Cornell Medical College. She was also the Manager of the Myra Mahon Patient Resource Center or PRC. Judy and other Clinical Medical Librarian team members impact patient care through many activities including: rounding with providers, attending morning reports, providing targeted evidence-based literature on topics of relevance to current clinical cases, and assisting physicians with the identification and integration of mobile information tools into their clinical workflows. Judy taught medical literature searching skills in the application of evidence-based medicine in the Neurology Clerkship. In her role at the PRC, Judy and her staff provide free up-to-date information about diseases, medications and wellness topics to patients, families, and caregivers. Health consumers are welcome to visit the PRC during scheduled health and wellness seminars, to conduct research on the PRC computers, to relax in between appointments or to consult with Judy. Consumer health and the integration of technology and patient education is the focus of Judy’s academic interest. Recent research focused on the introduction of electronic tablets in clinical waiting areas and health seminars on YouTube. Judy is the Past Chair of the Consumer and Patient Health Information Section (CAPHIS) of the Medical Library Association (MLA). She is also certified by MLA as an Academy of Health Information Professional (AHIP). Judy earned the Medical Library Association’s Consumer Health Librarian of the year award in 2019. 

Please direct any queries regarding drug advertising and your health to Sarah Jewell at: stj4006@med.cornell.edu

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Diana Delgado, MLS, AHIP 

Project Consultation

Diana Delgado serves in the position of Associate Director, Information and Education Services. In addition to administrative duties and leadership, she provides information services, including expert literature searching, evidence-based medicine (EBM) teaching, techniques on navigating the world of publishing, and research skills workshops, to a range of health professionals and students in the Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital community. Ms. Delgado created and manages a systematic review service, made up of a team of library faculty and an information specialist. She has been invited to serve as a speaker on research skills, EBM, and systematic reviews, at a number of programs including WCMC Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program and the WCMC Annual Nursing Research Symposium. From 2009-2011 she was an associate editor of the Journal of the Medical Library Association, an international, peer-reviewed journal. In 2012, Ms. Delgado was honored as a rising star by the Pratt Institute as one of 40 Pratt alumni/faculty under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves early in their careers. In 2013, she was awarded an AAHSL Leadership Scholarship to attend the Harvard Graduate School of Education Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians. Ms. Delgado has served as a member of the Medical Library Association (MLA) Nominating Committee and was elected as the 2017-2018 MLA New York-New Jersey Chapter Chair. She is a Distinguished Member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals and has also contributed to MLA by co-developing and offering MLA-accredited CE courses. In 2017, Ms. Delgado was named the Estelle Brodman Academic Librarian of the Year in recognition of her career as an “educator, seminal thinker, able administrator, technological innovator, and skillful practitioner.” 

Ms. Delgado has a B.A. in English from SUNY Albany and a M.L.S from Pratt Institute. 

She can be reached at: did2005@med.cornell.edu

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A Note on Illustrations:

Original Illustrations and icons featured throughout the Snake Oil to Social Media project were created by Grace Danico. More information on the artist can be found on her webpage, here: https://www.gracedanico.com

Downloadable Resources:

Promotional Poster (23" x 35"): Image icon Promotional Poster
Promotional Flyer (8.5" x 11", 2-sided PDF): PDF icon snake_oil_promtional_flyer_final_.pdf 
Resource Card (3" x 5"): Image icon Resource Card (Front)Image icon Resource Card (Back)

"Evaluating Medical Trade Cards" ActivityPDF icon evaluating_medical_trade_cards_activity.pdf

"Evaluating Drug Advertisements" FDA ActivityPDF icon evaluating_drug_advertisements_fda_activity_answers.pdf

Additional Trade Card Resources: 

Other online historical trade card collections to investigate: 

Trade Cards: A Short History – Cornell University  

William H. Helfand Collection of Pharmaceutical Trade Cards - New York Academy of Medicine  

Warshaw Collection of Business Advertising – Smithsonian Institution Archives   

Advertising Ephemera – Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library

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Aikin, K. J., Southwell, B. G., Paquin, R. S., Rupert, D. J., O’Donoghue, A. C., Betts, K. R., & Lee, P. K. (2017). Correction of misleading information in prescription drug television advertising: The roles of advertisement similarity and time delay. Research in Social & Administrative Pharmacy : RSAP, 13(2), 378–388. doi:10.1016/j.sapharm.2016.04.004

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Snake Oil to Social Media: Drug Advertising & Your Health

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