A self shooting observational documentary producer/director making engaging, thought-provoking films about real people, often filming over extended timeframes.

Keeping It Up: The big story of the little blue pill : Synopsis

My Role
Filmed and Directed
David McKinlay
Catrin Rowlands
Exec Producer Two Rivers
Alan Clements
Exec Producer BBC Storyville
Emma Hindley
Exec Producer Screen Scotland
Mark Thomas
Prod Co
Two Rivers Media
Transmission Date
8th December 2023

25 years ago, Viagra kickstarted a second sexual revolution (the first being the birth control pill) and a controversy unlike any other drug before it.

In 1992, scientists at Pfizer began trials for a new drug they hope will reduce angina. They run the first in-patient trial at a clinical research centre in South Wales, only to discover some men were reporting erections. These men included Idris Price, the first volunteer to ever speak on camera.

Quickly management in Pfizer’s World Headquarters in New York realised they had a blockbuster drug. They appointed Rooney Nelson as Head of Marketing of Viagra. One of the industry brightest stars, Nelson is the first black leader in the corporation. Alongside is Senior Marketing Manager Jennifer Doebler, responsible for Pfizer’s first TV commercial for the drug, and Medical Ethicist Dr Art Caplan who must imagine worst-case scenarios. At the same time a secret delegation is despatched to the Vatican to win over the Roman Catholic Church before they derail the pill’s launch.

Released in 1998, orders of the blue pill exceeded every single prediction. It soon became an iconic brand, making approximately $35 billion in global sales for Pfizer over the years.

By 2020 the Viagra patent had expired, leading to a host of generic competitors. Sub-culture journalists, black market dealers and investigative journalists discuss how it’s used in sex parties; has been adopted by the LGBTQI+ community; and how Pfizer was fined $2.3 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in the history of US Department of Justice, for its illegal off label marketing and sales of Viagra and other drugs. The blue pill’s transformation from medical aid to a lifestyle drug is complete.

This is the big story of the little blue pill that forever changed our world.