Saturday, March 22, 2008

how to be happy, 1955


The creator of Miltown died this week, the pill that helped so many women get through their pre-liberated days in the 1950s. (Miltown was the prelude to Valium, christened by the Stones in their first album as "mother's little helper.") The man who invented Miltown, Frank Berger, was also a pioneer in HCP advertising. At first, the company he worked for balked at distributing his invention after polling showed that doctors were lukewarm about it. So Berger put together an industrial showing the drug's calming effect on rhesus monkeys and screened it for an industry gathering of prominent docs. Within months, Miltown was the best-selling drug ever marketed in the US, so popular that pharmacies couldn't keep it in stock. "Out of Miltown" and "Miltown Available Tomorrow" signs became common in pharmacy windows.

A few years later, Berger acknowledged that the pill could be habit-forming. But he placed the blame for such a habit squarely with the consumer, claiming, "One just expects that it will be used properly. There is no warning on scalpels, 'This is sharp, don't cut yourself.'" Oh for a time machine that could zap me back to that trusting era. As a trial lawyer.

5 comments:

Ad Contrarian said...

ad broad,

how do I send you an email?

bobhoffman@hoffmanlewis.com

Rob Buccino said...

Hey Ad Broad,
after looking at your Thursday post/link on to Alan Weisman's page on human extinction, I think I could use some Miltown. (My mom's old stash from the early '60s is long, long gone). Trivia note: Miltown was named after a New Jersey town (wouldn't we all want to live there?)

PS Loved the beautiful Schweppes post -- thanks!

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

AC-madbroad@gmail.com

RB-really? Can u imagine living in Miltown, USA--the town where no one ever moves away. Glad the slomo worked for you, too.

Auntie Christ said...

"Out of Miltown" -- great band or album name. Sort of the way British punks rode the Thalidomide baby topic in the 70s.

I think that doctor had a point though. Drugs are habit forming as laudenum proved about 80 years earlier and cocaine 30 years prior to Miltown showing up. Knives are sharp. Drinking too much destroys your liver. Eating too much makes you fat. Jumping off cliffs can be dertimental, as well. Think I'll go have a benedryl, now.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Right you are, Auntie. As blogging can be dentrimental to one's non-virtual life...