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In the past two decades, the companies involved in this story have long since changed, casualties of multiple mergers and acquisitions. But the genesis of DTC advertising can be traced back to Boots Pharmaceuticals, a small European-based pharmaceutical company. While direct-to-physician ads appeared in print first for Boots Pharmaceuticals’ Rufen, a prescription ibuprofen product, it was in 1983 that Boots’ executives decided that they required a bigger voice to take on a major competitor in the NSAID category — and the medium company executives wanted to use to voice their message was television. Thus in 1983 the first TV ad for a prescription drug aired. According to Liz Moench, who in 1983 was the product director who spearheaded the DTC initiative for Rufen, the company had a lot to gain and little to lose.
By today’s standards the Rufen campaign may appear primitive in its creative execution, but Boots’ executives paved the way for DTC by taking on the FDA and a formidable and much larger competitor — The Upjohn Co. — to have its brand message heard.
Expert on this Topic
Liz Moench, President, Medici Group Inc