Selling a Cure for Chronicity A Layered Narrative Analysis of Direct-to-Consumer Humira® Advertisements

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Kristen Cole


Humira® has been the top selling pharmaceutical since 2014. As a former Humira® user, for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, I explore how we understand the concept and experience of chronicity as it is represented in advertisements for Humira® and manifested in embodied reactions to these advertisements. Through a layered narrative method that combines rhetorical analysis with autoethnography, I analyze 13 Humira® commercials. I argue that Humira® commercials operate through a curative imaginary (Kafer, 2013), which not only assumes viewers desire to be immune-typical but also defines normative orientations to time. This case study reveals how direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising obscures cultural and systemic sources of (dis)ablism, including the ways striving for normalcy is in and of itself an experience of chronicity, and disregards experiences of chronicity that disrupt normalizing boundaries of time. 

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