By LINDA A. JOHNSON (AP)
TRENTON, N.J. — Pharmaceutical companies boosted their spending on ads directly targeting consumers by barely 2 percent last year, according to data compiled by The Nielsen Co.
Drugmakers spent a combined $4.51 billion on ads for prescription medicines aimed at consumers. Two-thirds of that, or $3 billion, went for television ads, and another $1.19 billion was spent on magazine ads in 2009, with both levels nearly the same as the year before.
Newspaper ads increased by 11 percent, to $162.6 million, and radio ads jumped by 112 percent, to $46.3 million. Spending on Internet ads, which has doubled over the last five years, hit $117.4 million, up 31 percent, while $7.6 million was spent on outdoor ads such as billboards.
Nielsen's research found the top spender was Pfizer Inc., the New York maker of the blockbuster cholesterol fighter Lipitor, pain relievers Lyrica and Celebrex, and impotence pill Viagra. Pfizer, which is the world's biggest drugmaker by revenue, spent $1.1 billion on consumer drug ads last year, up 37 percent from 2008.
AstraZeneca PLC was second at $371.9 million, up 37 percent. Eli Lilly & Co., Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC ranked third through fifth, respectively, in spending, even though they all reduced their ad spending slightly last year.
Meanwhile, the most heavily advertised drug was Lipitor, which has been the world's top-selling prescription medicine for several years.
It loses patent protection after November 2011 and its annual sales, now nearly $13 billion, are expected to plunge as much-cheaper generic versions quickly become available. Pfizer is trying to wring every bit of revenue possible out of the drug before then.