Eli Lilly discovered that an antihypertensive medication it had been developing was, in fact, having a significant effect on mood. They decided to launch their new drug as a therapy for depression.
When Prozac (fluoxetine) launched in 1987, it was a sensation, representing new beginnings and opportunities for those suffering from depression. We realized that in order for it to succeed, we would have to tackle depression head-on, and destigmatize the condition by raising social consciousness. We created the name, Prozac, by intentionally distancing the name from everything typically associated with anti-depressants – strong chemicals, side effects, and mood swings. The easy and accessible language provided patients a platform to talk comfortably and openly about their condition.
By crafting a drug name patients could talk to their doctor about, the launch of Prozac marked a huge change in medicine and the treatment of mental health. And unveiled one of the most successful drugs of all time.
Prozac has been prescribed to more than 54M people and forever changed how we talk about healthcare.