One of my favorite pop culture sites on the web, BoingBoing posted some old-timey prescription drug ads this week.
At first glance, the ads seem funny in a naive sort of way. But when you take a closer look, they are a little scary. Here are a few of them:
From a cultural perspective, things like this are a great way to compare and contrast how we live now, and what sort of changes our society has gone through. The first thing that strikes me about these ads, is that they seem to be geared towards doctors. Long gone are the days where our prescribing physicians learn about drugs from magazine ads. Now the drug makers market straight to them, it’s actually a huge market, and a bit controversial.
I assume these ads came from magazines, which are still around, and have ads for prescription drugs now, so a great way to see how things have changed.
For a totally visual representation of how times have changed, I tried to find similar ads that show how we view very similar social issues, such as sleep problems (compared to Quaaludes ad above):
Or this new one for Bayer Pharmaceuticals (for Aspirin):
Lastly, I want to compare a new ad with the orange NeoCaine ad above, but I had no idea what it was. After a little digging around, the best I could find was that it’s a local anesthetic; “It is mainly used for infiltration anesthesia, peripheral nerve block, and spinal block”.
I think it’s odd that this was advertised in a magazine, but I do get it that drug makers marketed to doctors this way. So maybe anesthesiologists were a good audience for what ever magazine this came from.
This was a fun little flash back, and an interesting way to see how we are changing and evolving. Have you seen an interesting vintage drug ad online? Let me know about it in the comments below.