Most people are familiar with at least one version of the birth control pill’s packaging — a round plastic disc which opens like a shell and looks like a makeup compact. But the pill wasn’t always packaged this way. The … Continue reading →
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars in nineteen, sixty a new wonder drug hit, the? U S market and A lot of new drugs promise dramatic results. This one would sleep, transform millions of lives and radically shift american culture. It was called and of it it was the first oral cod. Drugs are many suddenly answer to all the problems. When a government agency approves the first birth control bill in nineteen sixty, it helps set in motion forces that will soon change the social mores of the world in just two. There is one point: two million american women were taking. The birth control fell, that's reporter, I will turn up within five years the pill and become the most popular form of birth control in the country. Let women choose if and when they want to have children and give them more freedom to pursue careers and it helped.
Turn the free love era. The late nineteenth sixties. It was a big deal, If you'd never taken the pill, you can probably picture its packaging. There's the round plastic packages that opens like a shell and looks kind of like make up impact. There is also the more low key rectangular pill sheets with each pill. Arranged in four neat rose for every day of the month. It's hard to think of other points. Option, drug packages that are as widely recognisable as those of the birth control pill. But the pill didn't always have special packaging, the first birth control held, Market came in a simple glass bottle of loose tablets like any other prescription, come in big bottles for a year supply smaller bottles were amongst supply and hampers the pill. Went from nondescript bottles to the iconic pill packages. It came to rubber Larger trends in american medicine, women were
you need to take more control over their own bodies and their demands for a new standard of patient autonomy would go on to effect proscription packaging of all kinds. It all started with a family in Illinois, in nineteen. Sixty one David indoors Wagner were a middle aged coupled with four kids. They didn't on any more of them, and so they were, to learn about the pill Doris gotta prescription. The pills came in a big bottle. Instruction said to begin the pill on the fifth day of her period and to take one impel every day for twenty days, followed by a five day break for menstruation. If Doris law struggle recycle or if she forgot, whether or not she had taken her polar day, she was instructed to or all the pills out of the bottle count. How many those were left subtract back from the original number of pills and consult a calendar. Not us Super user friendly design and if she missed a pill
she risk getting pregnant again said David Wagner. I noticed that his wife, Doris, was often sort of concerned about taking her pills, and he was also concerned about whether or not she was taking her pills, the Wagner's from some passed away, but this is key. Dylan eyes are a women's health experts whose research, the Wagner's and their role in the history of birth control packaging. So he thought not might remain do something about this. Do you Agnes was an engineer for a tool company in Illinois and he was used to say we mechanical problems he figured he could create a pact. Dean system that would make the pill taking process easier for his wife. First, he tried then really simple. He took a piece of paper and he out the days of the week and put the pills on the peace. Paper, along with the days of the week, to sort of make it into a bit of a calendar, and that worked pretty well, at least for a few weeks. Then I guess the story goes something's fell on,
pressure in the pills, got scattered and fell on the floor, and that was that that made him think. Maybe I can make a package that say you could throw Your purse throwing your bag take with you and it will keep everything in order, so what he came up with is today very familiar to anyone whose probably use the birth Control Panel Diane went is a curator of the extensive birth control archive at the Smithsonian Museum of American history, and we actually have some of the prototypes over You're whiners original prototype was made out of two discs of clear plastic and snapped fafnir that he borrowed from the child's toy. The bottom disk held twenty pills. Top desk at one whole drilled through it, which could be rotated each day to expose the correct pill, along with the corresponding day of the week. Having this system that made pill taking more intuitive helped doors and David fill out more comfortable. This is David,
Wagner writing in January. Sixteen nineteen. Ninety this is a letter Wagner, sent the Smithsonian Museum for their birth control archive both Doris, and I could tell at a glance whether a pill had been taken on a given day. This did wonders for our relationship. Wagner successfully received a patent for his design, but he had trouble convincing pharmaceutical companies to get on board. He actually took around to some of the big companies and most of em said sort of things like what we need need, That's kind of get mecca and everything at the time, drug companies were known for the boring sameness of their prescription. Packaging Wagner was told that a special package just for birth control sounded kind of commercial she is design was turned down by every company he approached, but then just a few months later, the companies he met with called or though pharmaceuticals released their first birth control pill,
and these pills came in a circular plastic container with die on moved each day to reveal the next pal. It was called the dial pack to David Wagner. The dial pack looked very familiar maybe a little too familiar Wagner a lawsuit and in December of nineteen sixty four. He signed an agreement with or though pharmaceuticals, pretend thousand dollars and a promise not to sue A company called Searle, soon began pain, Wagner royalties for the rights to place a similar pill container, pretty soon, all control. Manufacturers were coming, with a version of the circular design there's Diane went again reading, from the letter Wagner, wrote to the Smithsonian. He said some people have wondered how I made out financially. I spent about thirty hours on the six models I made in my basement and the rest of my costs for legal fees over the life, the patent. He says he nodded about a hundred thousand and Royalty
eventually David Wagner got tired of chasing royalty obligations from pharmaceutical companies and he sold the patent rights too without pharmaceuticals. He returned to his quiet life in Illinois, but his design became a national sensation. As pharmaceutical companies began marketing these new birth control pills, they faced a couple obstacles obstacles that packaging design would help overcome. First of all, the pill marked a big turning point in the pharmaceutical industry before birth control only sick people took forms. Drugs. The birth control pill was one of the first prescriptions intended to be taken by healthy Americans and So pharmaceutical companies design the packaging to look and not like medicine buttons,
I'd like an ordinary everyday objects. They began packaging, the pills and circular plastic cases that looked a lot like make up compacts. They were decorated with bright, colors and graphics. I would say: fly oars and butterflies are probably the most common on them. I was gonna wonder about that- why they didn't get a little more edges, at least at times, Pharmaceutical companies also experimented with packaging climax. To make daily pill seem normal and unremarkable. One built up went so far as to bundle a toothbrush and, above so with each proscription. You know it is a brush. Your teeth. Wash your face. Take your pill. That's kind of you know another part of the daily routine The other challenge that pharmaceutical companies faced as they rolled out this groundbreaking new medication was the can served outlook of some doctors in the nineteen sixties, doc
there's were overwhelmingly mail in some were wary about the revolutionary impact the birth control pill would have on sex and generals subject for this afternoon, Genuine discussion of the pill is the power to prescribe and sixty seven, a group of doctors, in San Francisco. At a symposium called the pill and the puritan ethic were they explored the moral implications of the birth control pow. Here's doctor on a a leader in women's health and family planning describing the challenges the pill presented for physicians, whom the uncomfortable, with changing attitudes towards premarital. Sacks. Ok, maintain his emotional neutrality in the face of rapidly changing values among his younger patients, whose code of conduct often will differ markedly from his own. The ethical dilemmas posed by the demand in the
This need for contraceptive advice among the young and unmarried has generated a good deal of anxiety and discomfort in the minds of physicians, not only were physicians grappling with stuff that was actually know their business, they also some other young female patients not even be responsible enough to manage their daily pull, taking regimen here's another doktor at the symposium Doktor Albert long. The girl can't remember to take kill every morning is in trouble and is this is this? Is one of the problems with appeal? We have to have a who will understand how it is you use it correctly. For me, Local companies needed to market the pill to skeptical doctors, who might not be totally comfortable with the idea of women taking control of their reproductive health and once again they used the pills packaging to help them do that. Pharmaceutical companies produce dozens of ads that targeted positions they marketed the new pill packages
the way to help female patients take the pills correctly. They advertise the ice as the I that remembers for her or the fool proof method, each company insisted they are Pell package design would help the female patients stay on schedule, which was true. The packaging did help women stay on schedule, but the marketing of these so called compliance packages played into some doctors struggles for control at a time when there The troll authority was weakening here's medical historian Dominique DE la belle to the introduction of or contraceptives. The image of the physician patient relationship is really one in which patients where the male or female would really kind of just do what the physician said. It was like this period of medical paternalism that physician knows best with the introduction of the
kill the idea that a woman would go to the Doktor S office and demand particular prescription. That was something that was was quite new. As this, she's progressed more and more women began, taking the pill and series the Supreme Court cases also helped establish that women, both unmarried and married, had a legal right to contraceptive medications the invention of the pill, and these subsequent legal victories were hailed as most milestones, but there was a darker side to the bill. To in this darker side would be too. One more major revolution in pharmaceutical packaging, the past Nineteen sixties is not the same power. We have to deck the old pal about seven. Times more estrogen, and this high Oh, some estrogen caused some negative side effects like dizziness. And knowledge, as well as more serious problems like blood clots, higher risk of cancer.
Some of these problems have been apparent in early birth control trials that trials being conducted in the nineteen fifties in Puerto Rico. For the pill was primarily you tested on low income women. Many of whom were not even aware they were participating in a medical trial Researchers mostly ignored their complaints. As the pillow, into the mainstream mushroom and did not hear about these health risks from their doctors, and it was hard to fathom that the pill that came in pink plastic compact the bill that millions of women carried around in their purses that those pills could be dangerous. Then in nineteen sixty nine a book was published? opera seamen, who is a journalist at the time, wrote the doctors case against the pill which, which documented what she and others believe was really kind of a kind of egregious treatment by drug companies, and physicians and the FDA. The failure to kind of acknowledge these serious risks around the pill as women
and about these risks they got angry most doesn't want the pill to be taken off the market, but they did want more transparency about the side effects in nineteen. Seventy Barbara Siemens book inspired Congress to hold dreams to investigate the safety of the birth control pill, but no women were invited to testify at these hearings. It was a panel of men, white men and this Not surprisingly, whizzing was really alarm into seamen and other feminist at that time, and so they protested at those hearings and demanded that their voice be heard about the pill each more. The hearings, a group of women from the activists group DC women's liberation, convened at the capital with prepared question. And bail, money tucked into their socks. The woman strategically
placed themselves in the middle of audience rose and repeatedly interrupted. The hearings demanding more transparency. I can testify. Why have you tell them that will get for priority, bear not guiding the appeal which was really remarkable. I'm show of activism and kind of showcasing the potential I am of medicine at that time. Are you. In that going to permit the proceedings to be interrupted in this way. You, ladies, when by taking this pill words These hearings reveal that some daughters had long been aware of the negative side effects of a pill and many had failed to adequately alert their female pace. The situation left many women feeling torn. There were grateful for the freedom and autonomy the plug gave them, but they also felt betrayed
but the doctors and pharmaceutical companies that had failed to warn them about the possible risks. At this point, the pill had been on the market for nearly a decade. We will no longer tolerate intimidation by White coated, guys antiseptics. Directing our lives mean this really we had a different kind of transformative impact on the fish some patient relationship, because their health risks around the birth control pill. These really raise the issue of light. Does the physician no best do they know best and do they act in the best interests of patients, Over the years the hormonal dosage of the pearl was gradually lowered and it became much safer for women, although there our still some negative side of things but then longer and longer term legacy is that now we have a healthier environment in which patients of farms,
for consumers, really much more willing to kind of raise questions and raise concerns. The scandal, also led to one more enduring innovation until packaging feminists health activists successfully. Change the FDA policy to require a typed warning of side effects to be included you can every birth control package, this law The groundwork, the side effects, warnings that come in all prescription package's today. So today, when you pick, prescription any prescription that little typed sheep, you got that lists side effects from the mild to the terrifying you have birth control. To thank for that of course, these in its present their own design challenges. If you ve ever try to read one you familiar with the tiny fought, the medical jargon and completely overwhelming amount of information come in Britain.
Sort of acts, including inter menstrual, spawning dodge restaurants, headaches weight, gain mood. Changes in this period has decreased libido. Let's hope, there's a good design other to make sense of all that information Ninety nine percent invisible was produced this week by Leyla turn. If with the Lady Home mix in textbooks my Sharif uses, By shown, real melodious in ok accompany our senior producer is Katy. Mingle, Kirkwall State is the digital director. The restless staff includes a breach of men its Gerald Turn Mouser an me Ruinin Mars. We
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.