January 26, 2023

When Prozac was introduced in 1988, the green-and-cream pill to treat depression launched a cultural revolution that continues to echo.

It’s the hottest psychiatric drug in history prozac prozac prozac wonder drug that works one at the end of 1987 the us food and drug administration approved a new antidepressant and prozac hit the american market advertising and word-of-mouth helped boost the drugs reputation and prozac became the it drug of the 1990s models in the latest fashions are said to look

Prozac deprived before long the name was on everyone’s tongue i was on prozac from our own time and it seemed everyone was using it right now the greater the drugs popularity the more it seemed to symbolize prozac moves from being a successfully launched pharmaceutical product to being a true cultural celebrity you know it’s the holiday season in new york city

When the drug dealers are selling more prozac than crack so how did this little pill become the icon of an era for people who suffer depression it’s been hailed as a virtual miracle almost immediately after prozac’s launch it was clear that it offered a promising alternative to available treatments for depression i started giving it to difficult patients patients

Who hadn’t done well somewhere else and people thought i could get help with something i’ve lived with for years the drug was an enormous medical breakthrough prozac emerged as a pioneer in a new category of drugs called ssris the targeted one chemical in the brain serotonin instead of many it plays a crucial role in mood appetite and many other brain functions

Many anti-depressive drugs have severe side effects it was largely a lack of those problems that has persuaded doctors to prescribe prozac to 2 million americans one of those was student elizabeth wurtzel i had been on other medications before that didn’t work nearly so well but it really changed everything there was one morning when i woke up and i felt like the

Idea of being alive didn’t seem so awful it was an amazing turnaround the drug led her to break the historical taboo about depression and write a book about hers i knew it was pretty safe to tell the story because i knew a lot of people would relate to it i think that’s what i was betting on if i wrote it it would make people feel better wurtzel quickly became the

Generation x face of the drug seems like everyone’s doctor is dealing this stuff now but wort cil’s book was not the only one that captured the public imagination psychiatrist and author peter kramer wrote his from the perspective of the treating physician people who do well on it and they say this is my real self the transformation is not away from the self but

Towards some ideal self he then went on to speculate about how prozac might change us in ways never before expected i thought what will happen if we can do this with people who’ve never been depressed you know if you could put someone on the medicine and he or she would become more socially adept and i coined a term cosmetics psychopharmacology where the analogy

Was cosmetic surgery so a medical procedure done for something other than treating illness kramer’s narrative about prozac being able to change people’s essential selves took hold many claim that it transforms them makes them more calm more confident more productive somehow better than well get in the hold that’s what i’m looking for that’s what makes you come

Back i found that taking this medicine this drug uh i became a different person but it wasn’t just the promise of a personal metamorphosis that made prozac a household names there’s nothing wrong with you that can’t be cured a little prozac in a polo mallet oh here we go it comes to prozac prozac’s popularity wasn’t just the result of a medical breakthrough but

Also of a marketing one prozac’s marketing helped popularize the idea that our moods are neurochemical and that there are things we can do to change them prozac took the mystery out of the science it talked about how the drug worked another way the drugs benefits were sold to the public was through its name eli lilly hired branding agency interbrand to come up

With a memorable one prozac has two syllables the first syllable pr o was designed to suggest professional the ac is designed to communicate activity coupled with the z it just sounds much more powerful and more effective as a name but it wasn’t just the name that gave prozac a leg up one of the first places that news about prozac appears is in popular financial

Magazines things that are reporting on its potential blockbuster status how it’s going to make a ton of money for its producers then this kind of creates this buzz it was remarkable i mean new york magazine had this pill on its cover i don’t think anything like that it happened before as media coverage of the drug grew stories about a possible link to suicide began

To circulate in 1991 the fda convened hearings on the issue i finally admitted myself to stress center i begged them lock me up because i’m going to die and i don’t want to die no conclusive link was found and the sale of prozac continued this medicine had the career arc of a celebrity that it was sort of overhyped and then demonized and you know trying to find

Its level through the press ever since prozac was introduced five years ago it has developed what amounts to a cult following before long as other ssris began to eat away at eli lilly’s market share prozac ads began appearing in general interest magazines rather than just medical journals targeting patients particularly women instead of just their doctors and

Commercials ran on tv for the first time people wanted control they wanted to talk about their successes their personal successes and prozac spoke to that talk to your doctor today and it also introduced something new for sale since the 1950s consumer goods like cars and washing machines have become symbols of success and happiness now there was something else

Prozac is saying that happiness itself is available for purchase and can be one of these things that defines what it means to be an american and have that american dream and the more people who claim their share of it the better eli lilly’s bottom line in 2001 with a patent set to expire they launched a new drug for a new problem seraphin is not really a new drug

It’s just a new name for the popular antidepressant prozac now repackaged with a distinctly feminine look some accuse the drug manufacturer of trying to create a new market for prozac by grossly exaggerating premenstrual problems think it’s pms you take my keys maybe it’s pmdd soon the airwaves were full of ads for other drugs promising to treat problems most

Of us didn’t know we had i had restless leg syndrome latisse the first and only proved prescription treatment for inadequate we’re not enough lashes your lashes actually grow you do have a whole bunch of new pharmaceuticals coming out to enable people to do things that they like to do so to be able to put a bunch of cheeseburgers time to see your doctor about

America’s most prescribed acid control medicine or to be able to have sex you have drugs like viagra coming out these are responding to genuine human needs and desires but those needs and desires hadn’t always been configured as illnesses the way they were during after the prozac era i think prozac made people very aware of the possibility that medicines were

Going to step out of their bounds and be used by people who maybe had some quality that wasn’t rewarded socially and to move to some state that was better socially rewarded oh

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Prozac: Revolution in a Capsule | Retro Report | The New York Times By The New York Times