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‘Blockbuster drugs like Viagra, Lipitor, Prozac and Nexium have made Big Pharma one of the nation’s top industries. Even before direct-to-consumer advertising on TV, there were blockbuster drugs like Ritalin, Valium, Tagamet and Premarin. To be a blockbuster a drug has to 1) be usable by almost everyone; 2) be used every day; 3) be used indefinitely; 4) solve an everyday health problem like heartburn or high cholesterol; 5) have a fun or memorable ad campaign; 6) get social buzz; and 7) be sold to a large number of people quickly.
The last qualification—quick sales to millions—is crucial because Big Pharma has a small sales window before a patent runs out. But it’s also dangerous because many risks don’t emerge until millions take the drug so the public serves as unwitting guinea pigs. In fact, the “early user/guinea pig” factor is what sunk Vioxx 10 years ago.’