June 1969: The Food & Drug Administration issues guidelines for print advertisements in professional medical journals.
1975: Bausch & Lomb advertises Softlens contact lens in magazines and on TV.
October 1981: Merck & Co.'s ads in Reader's Digest and newspapers say a new pneumonia vaccine, Pneumovax, is available.
February 1983: FDA Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes imposes moratorium on direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising so the federal agency can develop simple ground rules.
May 1983: Boots Pharmaceuticals runs a six-week test of TV advertising in Tampa, Fla. The spot, created by Bloom Agency, New York, compares the cost of its Rufen ibuprofen with Upjohn's Co.'s Motrin. FDA orders Boots to modify the commercial and eliminate mention of any disease.
September 1985: The FDA, which still has not created new regulations, is pressured by Congress to lift its moratorium on DTC advertising. Few prescription drug marketers show an interest in consumer advertising.
October 1985: Dow Pharmaceuticals' Merrell Dow division launches unbranded print ads for Seldane antihistamine and Nicorette gum from Medicus Intercon Internatonal, New York, and its subsidiary Medicus Intercon USA,
November 1985: CBS unveils its own guidelines for accepting DTC prescription drug advertising, following FDA's lift of the moratorium.
September 1987: Sandoz Phamaceutical Corp. runs newspaper ads for Tavist-1 antihistamine created by Romann & Tannenholz, New York. The ads mention the drug's brand name. The FDA later demands Sandoz pull the ads, alleging they contains "outdated" information.
December 1987: The first FDA-permitted TV spot airs, for Nicorette. The unbranded ads were created by Medicus Consumer Communications, New York, and executed by Gross Townsend Frank Hoffman.
Early 1988: Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals breaks first TV advertising for Seldane. Medicus Intercon is the agency.
November 1988: Upjohn Co. breaks TV spots for Rogaine -- the first major long-term DTC TV advertiser -- from Saatchi & Saatchi's Klemtner Advertising, New York. The commercials urge people to "see your doctor if you are concerned about hair loss." While the spot contains no brand name, print ads breaking at the same time mention the drug by name.
March 1991: Coalition for Healthcare Communication begins lobbying for FDA reform.
January 1992: Marion Merrell Dow cracks the high-profile Super Bowl to air an unbranded 15-second spot for Nicoderm patch. The commercial features two men talking in an airport. Lewis & Gace, Fort Lee, N.J., created the spot.
November 1996: FDA Commissioner David Kessler, criticized as an impediment to reforming DTC policy and fostering a climate of fear in the drug industry, leaves his post. The post remains unfilled.
May 1997: FDA expressed concern that Hoechst Marion Roussel's branded "Wheat surfer" TV spot for Allegra employs obvious imagery to convey its use.
August 1997: In an 18-month test, the FDA allows use of broadcast ads that mention the brand name and treated conditions, as long as ads include a limited in-broadcast disclosure of major side effects and mentions on-air a supporting national print ad campaign and Web site where viewers can go to get more information. Days later, new TV commercials for Glaxo's Valtrex, Schering's Claritin and Hoechst's Allegra appear days later. Claritin is sent a warning letter for missing some guidelines.
1999: FDA will formalize or change current guidelines.