In 1976 Montreal Olympics, Nadia Comaneci of Romania, at age 14, became the first athlete in Olympic history to score a perfect 10; and became a celebrity instantly.

In 1977-78, Ciba Geigy introduced their landmark drug Voltaren (diclofenac sodium). They chose Nadia Comaneci, in a 360o pose, to grace the front page of promotional folder and as icon for the drug. The folder became an instant hit; the drug took longer to capture the market, which it did big time. Ciba Geigy was pioneer of Irgapyrine (phenylbutazone) which was an earlier cornerstone of anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic therapy. Afterwards, MSD had dominated this segment with Indocid (indomethacin). Voltaren took over all of them and became a gold standard in its class.

When you are looking at a brand evolution closely or are part of it, you understand how much goes into building a brand. Current tactics of brand building may well be questioned on reasonable grounds.

True, that the overall life cycle of brands in general appears to have become shorter; but is it really?????

I witnessed and participated in the evolution of some very famous and mega brands. We also defended our established brands against existing and new competitors. Whatever else, the basic strategy was rather simple. When we introduced a product, our entire effort was to motivate the doctor to try the product. We were sure that the product would come up to expectation, and it did. The effort comprised of three things; sufficient trial samples, product information, and consistent follow up. And when we defended, we used the same tools to desist the customer to use competitor product. We turned the strategy on its head.

In the early days of branded generics growth, innovator companies used the same tactics and held the fort for quite some time.

It was a usual day. I came out of BVH and visited the few pharmacies outside. It was a routine to see the stocks availability and pace of business. There was a small new pharmacy which had opened recently, and I met the owner. He was rather young, and the pharmacy was a family venture. He said something funny to me about med reps and I replied, and he offered me to sit and have a cup of tea.

That is how I got introduced to Syed Sajjad Ali Bukhari. His name was heavier than his weight. Whenever I had free time, I would go and sit with him in his pharmacy. The business was small because his shop was stuck between big and old pharmacies. He could not carry lot of stock and could not fill all the prescriptions that came to shop. In short, his business was unable to compete with the big ones and settled on a small scale. That gave him plenty of time. I was always into reading and poetry and music; so was he. And we both smoked. We quickly became friends and became part of our larger network of friends and families.

Sajjad is a very likeable guy, Urdu-speaking, cultured and well-behaved. His business did not take off and he finally closed the shop. Some people said that half his shop we blew up in smoke and half we drowned in tea, but it might be an overstatement. He then joined Smith & Nephew as medical rep and later shifted to MSD. Life went on. He fell in love with a doctor and after much follow up, married her. They were a loving couple. His wife developed a chronic, progressive illness which took her life in a few years. Sajjad was devastated. But we learn to live with hard realities. He married again and has a loving wife and lovely children. Several years ago, they migrated to Canada and settled there. Sajjad spends a lot of time on Facebook these days, enjoying his semi-retirement and staying connected with old friends.

I always wonder how much happens in a rather short life. Reminds me of an old song. Probably Tom Jones, but not sure.

We laugh, we cry

We live, we die,

And when we are gone

The world goes on

We love, we hate

We learn too late

How small we are

How little we know

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