As a sleepy pharmaceutical industry was entering its blockbuster era (1980’s), opportunity began to blossom for those who provided services to this industry. During this period, dissemination of information was slow in all aspects of science and technology, and more so in the field of medicine. Most authors of medical literature were busy physicians who didn’t have the time to write classic papers. New therapies often took years to penetrate the population seeking solutions to sometimes deadly disorders. Clearly, it was a phenomenon that begged a solution.
It was in the best interests of the pharmaceutical industry to help improve this problem. A 17-year patent life for a new drug was frequently reduced to 5 or 6 years by the time testing was completed and a drug received Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The sooner companies were able to get information on the benefits of their drugs to providers, the sooner they were able to help patients and reap benefits from all the financial resources poured into research and development of a new drug. Although the industry had thousands of detail reps, it was not enough to cover the population of professions who could benefit from information on new blockbuster drugs.
The solution was responsible medical advertising for a faster and broader distribution of medical information. The mandate: Improve and expand the process of getting medical articles published in association journals.
There was a rush to introduce new ideas and procedures in medical journals. At the same time the FDA wanted to suppress what it felt was the growing flow of information from journals, direct mail and detail forces, some of which it felt was misleading. Former director of the Bureau of Drugs, currently known as the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Dr. J. Richard Crout, felt the pharmaceutical industry had too much influence over independent publishers.
In order to present a strong and united response to the FDA commissioner, the presidents of several independent medical publishing companies joined together to prepare a response and introduce some organization to the medical publishing industry. In 1976 they formed a new organization, called the Association of Independent Clinical Publications (AICP). At first, the new association excluded association journals and those journals dedicated to non-clinical issues.
Then other pressures began to emerge in medical publishing. The U.S. Postal Service issued new rules regarding request circulation that increased costs significantly. Because advertisers began to demand proof of circulation, BPA Worldwide (formerly known as Business Publications Audit of Circulation, Inc.) became the industry sheriff and an important influence. Syndicated reader services (such as Media-Chek from HCI and FOCUS from PERQ) represented another source of debate. There was the never ending controversy over the interpretation of numbers.
It became clear that those excluded from the original organization needed to be included to increase dialog. To that end, association and non-clinical publishers were invited to join. To acknowledge the new participants, in 1995 the name was changed to the Association of Medical Publications (AMP).
But still there was more change ahead. Direct-to-consumer advertising and the shift to the digital medium began a reconstruction of the medical publishing industry. Marketers were no longer interested in discussing print journals. Technology began to replace much of the personal sales call activity. Publishers had to recognize that the digital universe was upon them, which meant a new vision of the business, including its basic language. The word “publishing” was no longer descriptive of the business. “Content developers and distributors” was a more accurate definition. Thus, in 2006 the name was changed again, this time to the Association of Medical Media (AMM).
The future is being written as we write, and change is the only certainty. Creativity and perseverance are the words of the day. Concerted cooperation and collaboration will make the ride smoother and faster, and the AMM is working to build that road.
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