Overview

How five therapies changed the course of pharma history

How five therapies changed the course of pharma history

And why the stories behind thalidomide, Naprosyn, AZT, cardiology stents, and Zaltrap still resonate.



In celebratory issues such as this, there's an unfortunate tendency to devote an inordinate amount of attention to one's own achievements. You know: Look at us. We've been here 50 whole years. That's, like, a triple eternity in publishing. Bask in our ­uninterrupted presence!



The only thing less interesting than reading a self-related history of that sort, of course, is self-relating that history. To that end, we present to you our Milestone Moments, turning points in each of six categories: Provider, Media, Marketing, Patient, Payer, and Regulatory. You'll find reviews of the first DTC ads, the rise of payer power, and the iconic marketing of Viagra, whenever possible told by the people involved. You'll also get the first glimpse — outside the halls of Merck's corporate campus, that is — at the pharma giant's trove of original artwork, including a Norman Rockwell painting, much of which made its way into promotion.



The hope is that by reviewing some of this industry's highest- profile successes and struggles with fresh eyes, we can mine them for insights that will serve it well in the years ahead. 


— Larry Dobrow



Milestones

7 ways Viagra changed how drugs are marketed

7 ways Viagra changed how drugs are marketed

The inside story on a campaign for the ages, as told by the individuals who worked on it.

The provider gift ban: The day the tchotchkes died

The provider gift ban: The day the tchotchkes died

For some people in the industry ecosystem, the appeal of promo knickknacks endures.

Why the FDA's view of patient communication evolved over time

Why the FDA's view of patient communication evolved over time

The agency's ambitions were fueled in part by external criticism. The barbs that stung most sharply were ones suggesting a certain indifference on the FDA's part.

Milestones

30 years later, DTC's complicated past still hasn't deterred marketers

30 years later, DTC's complicated past still hasn't deterred marketers

Given its modern-day ubiquity, it's easy to forget that pharma DTC didn't exist until the 1980s rolled around.

Power to the payers: PBMs leave behind a trail of tiers

Power to the payers: PBMs leave behind a trail of tiers

When drug costs started to soar, PBMs turned to formulary exclusions — and the industry is still feeling the pinch.

Merck's creative archive tells an industry story

Merck's creative archive tells an industry story

Did you know that Norman Rockwell was a medical illustrator for Merck?