Series Number: 36
Since the first birth control pill was released to the American public in 1960, oral contraception has evolved considerably. Within today’s burgeoning and increasingly specialized pharmaceutical industry there are dozens of varieties of birth control pills available. Many of these are advertised as offering more than just fertility control. Dubbed “designer contraceptives,” these pills cater to specific issues completely detached from contraception. Whether the allure is convenience, acne treatment, or a reduction in water retention, focus on the gimmick attached to the pill overshadows all other concerns associated with the contraceptive. The niche marketing of these pills translates to an expanded customer base and increased profits for contraceptive manufacturers. The deregulation of prescription advertisements in 1997, which allows pharmaceutical companies to advertise alternative uses for the pill directly to consumers, hastened this practice. Media attention to designer contraceptives has also facilitated this growing market. One of the most celebrated and criticized pharmaceuticals in this field is Seasonale.