In 1996, Jamie Randall is fired from a Pittsburgh electronics store for having sex with his manager's girlfriend. His wealthy brother Josh announces at the dinner table at their parents' house that he has found Jamie a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative. After attending a Pfizer training program where he has sex with the instructor, Jamie goes to work for the company and tries to get doctors to prescribe Zoloft and Zithromax. He is rebuffed, much to the dismay of his regional manager, Bruce, who sees Jamie as his ticket to the "big leagues" of Chicago. Bruce says if Jamie can get Dr. Knight to prescribe Zoloft instead of Prozac, other doctors will follow his lead. Jamie tries to get access to Dr. Knight by hitting on his female employees until, exasperated, Dr. Knight unethically permits him to observe him at work, during which time he accidentally sees a disrobing patient, Maggie Murdock, who suffers from early onset Parkinson's disease.
Jamie angles a date with Maggie, who has sex with him. Jamie is later beaten up by top-selling Prozac rep Trey Hannigan, one of Maggie's ex-lovers, who warns him to stay away from her and the doctors. That night, Jamie is unable to get an erection. Maggie teasingly says he should use the new erectile dysfunction drug that his company has developed. Bruce confirms that such a drug, to be called Viagra, is about to be marketed. Jamie soon starts selling Viagra, an instant success. Jamie wants a committed relationship, but Maggie refuses. Jamie confronts her while she helps senior citizens onto a bus bound for Canada to get cheap prescription drugs, and they get into an argument.
Two days later, after he waits the night before at the bus stop in his car, he greets her back. Maggie is touched that he waited, and they resume their relationship. Jamie spends nights at Maggie's apartment. One night, he tells Maggie that he loves her—the first time he has ever said that to anyone—and has a panic attack. Maggie calms him by saying she "said 'I love you' to a cat once". Jamie catches his brother masturbating to a sex tape that he and Maggie had recorded. Jamie asks her to go to a Chicago medical conference with him. She ends up at a Parkinson's discussion group across the street, and is moved by the people and their stories. Jamie meets a man whose wife is in the final stages of the disease, and asks for advice about Maggie. The man tells him to run.
After the convention, Maggie tells him how much she loves him. Jamie starts researching Parkinson's, and takes Maggie to different specialists around the country to have tests done. Jamie becomes angry and upset when he arrives at an appointment, to find out it has been rescheduled after they had flown in to see the doctor. Maggie sees that Jamie can only love her if there's a hope that one day there will be a cure, and decides to break up with him.
Then Jamie gets invited to a pajama party with his brother by Dr. Knight and ends up having a threesome with two girls. Jamie wakes up with a rare reaction from taking Viagra and he goes to the hospital. Some time later, Jamie goes to a restaurant and runs into Maggie, who is on a date. Bruce shows up and reveals Jamie has been promoted to the Chicago office. While packing to move to Chicago, Jamie finds the videotape recorder where he taped himself and Maggie talking about life. Jamie realizes he wants to be with Maggie, but her boss tells him she has left for Canada to obtain drugs. Jamie flags down her bus and tells her that she makes him a better person, and that he loves and needs her. She starts to cry and says she will need him more. Jamie decides not to take the job in Chicago, but instead he attends medical school and stays with Maggie.Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie Randall
Anne Hathaway as Maggie Murdock
Oliver Platt as Bruce Winston
Hank Azaria as Dr. Stan Knight
Josh Gad as Josh Randall
Gabriel Macht as Trey Hannigan
Judy Greer as Cindy
George Segal as Dr. James Randall
Jill Clayburgh as Nancy Randall
Nikki DeLoach as Christy
Katheryn Winnick as Lisa
Natalie Gold as Dr. Helen Randall
Michael Chernus as Jerry
Michael Buffer Pfizer Convention MC
Jaimie Alexander as Carol (uncredited)
Anthony Mannella as Sam the lab technician (uncredited)
Principal photography began in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region on September 21, 2009. The city was chosen for its atmosphere, rich medical history, the state's tax incentive program for film productions, and the area's experienced crews. Pittsburgh suburbs such as McCandless, Squirrel Hill, Fox Chapel, Sewickley, Aliquippa, and Brownsville have been used as locations for the film, as well as Mellon Arena, Jane Street in the South Side between 17th and 18th streets, the Omni William Penn Hotel, The Capital Grille, and Station Square. Pittsburgh doubled as Chicago for some scenes. The studio was in a building that had been a limousine car park.
The scene in the beginning of the film where Gyllenhaal's character works in the audio/video store was shot at the former Don Allen Car Dealership located on Baum Blvd and S. Atlantic Avenue where the East End neighborhoods of Shadyside, Friendship and Bloomfield intersect. The building has since been demolished as of 2014.
A section of the Mon-Fayette Expressway (Pennsylvania Route 43) in suburban Washington County was used for scenes on November 15–16, delaying traffic. A helicopter was used for filming and 40 to 50 vehicles were brought in for the shoot. Trailers and tents were set up on the campus of Ringgold High School while filming took place on the Expressway. An area was set aside for actors waiting to film their scenes.
In preparing for the film, Hathaway credits the work of Kate Winslet and Penélope Cruz, two actresses "whose work [she] returned to a lot in preparation" for Love and Other Drugs; she believes both have "done nudity with a tremendous amount of sensitivity and dignity". She identified one of her favorite Cruz films, Abre Los Ojos, as work that helped her greatly for her role. Like Gyllenhaal, Hathaway had final cut over those scenes, using it to cut five seconds where she thought "the camera lingered a little bit". Hathaway said that she did not believe her nudity in the film would put off socially conservative people who would otherwise see the film, saying "just because nudity is such a contentious issue in America people believe that they automatically alienate the conservative parts of America by having nudity. But I give the American public more credit than that. I think that people are curious and people do love love stories. I think people might find it and like it, even though it is a little bit risky."
Love and Other Drugs received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 49% based on 161 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "It's a pleasure to see Hollywood produce a romance this refreshingly adult, but Love and Other Drugs struggles to find a balance between its disparate plot elements." Metacritic gave the film a score of 55 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it two and a half stars out of four, stating that it "obtains a warm, lovable performance from Anne Hathaway and dimensions from Jake Gyllenhaal that grow from comedy to the serious". Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review. He stated, "The energy is far too great—manic even—at the beginning but calms down for a while to focus on the highly competitive but not always ethical arena of drug sales, then gets distracted by unusually bold sex scenes for a studio picture only to wander off into the cultural phenomenon of Viagra before the movie decides it's a romance after all and so concludes in a highly conventional final embrace." Another reviewer found the film to be a "run-of-the-mill Hollywood love story".
Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, stating "Zwick is thankfully much more of a grown-up now in dealing with relationship entanglements. Somehow, between the epic and the intimate, between Hathaway and Gyllenhaal, love doesn't come easy, but with Love & Other Drugs, at least you don't have to wait." Mary Pols of Time stated, "Since American movies tend to be prudish about sex, especially having bona fide stars appear to do it onscreen, Love & Other Drugs' desire to thoroughly acquaint us with a topless Anne Hathaway and a bottomless Jake Gyllenhaal is a welcome change." James Berardinelli, film critic for ReelViews, praised the film and its story, giving it three and a half stars out of four. He wrote, "The first thing one notices about Love and Other Drugs is that it's an adult romance. So many current love stories are targeted at teenagers that it's rare to find one that sidesteps the numerous contrivances that permeate the genre."
Love and Other Drugs was released on November 24, 2010, and opened in 2,455 theaters in the United States, grossing $2,239,489 on its opening day and $9,739,161 in its opening weekend, ranking No. 6 with a per theater average of $3,967. On its second weekend, it remained No. 6 and grossed $5,652,810—$2,300 per theater. By its third weekend it dropped down to No. 8 and made $2,981,509—$1,331 per theater.
The film barely broke even at home with a domestic total gross of $32,367,005 as opposed to a production budget of $30 million. It fared much better overseas where it grossed $70,453,003.