American Sociological Association

Lay Pharmacovigilance and the Dramatization of Risk: Fluoroquinolone Harm on YouTube

Sociologists have documented how the pharmaceutical industry has corrupted pharmacovigilance (PV), defined as the practices devoted to detecting and preventing adverse drug reactions (ADRs). In this article, I juxtapose the official postmarketing system of PV with firsthand accounts of ADRs as found in 60 YouTube vlogs created by 29 individuals who recount debilitating reactions to fluoroquinolones, a common class of antibiotics. Whereas official PV is said to contribute the banalization of risk, these vlogs exemplify the dramatization of risk. I consider the vlogs as instances of lay PV. They represent lay knowledge claims created in response to perceived failures in the official system of regulation. As such, lay PV shares commonalties with other articulations of lay expertise as a counter to medical authority. At the same time, this case also underscores how the YouTube platform offers new tools for the creation and distribution of lay expertise.


Kristin Kay Barker





Starting Page


Ending Page