Drugmaker Spending on Consumer Advertisements Grows in 2006
By Elizabeth Lopatto
Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Drugmakers led by GlaxoSmithKline Plc spent $4.9 billion for consumer advertising in the first 11 months of 2006, $86 million more than for all of 2005.
The top two advertised drugs were sleep aids -- Sepracor's Lunesta at $316.3 million, and Sanofi-Aventis SA's Ambien at $173.8 million, said Nielsen Monitor Plus. Glaxo spent $757.5 million, including $120.5 million for its asthma therapy Advair, according to the Neilson data.
If the rate continued at that pace through December, then DTC spending would have recahed $5.3 billion for all of 2006, which would be over $400 million more than was spent in 2005. Is Pharma on a DTC "Spend Before Losing It" binge in anticipation of Congressional restrictions? I invite you to submit comments in a reply to this thread.
The amount spent on ads designed to bypass doctors and appeal directly to consumers has almost doubled since 2001, when $2.7 billion was spent, Nielsen's data shows. Some lawmakers have expressed concern that such advertising may give consumers inaccurate or misleading information and want to ensure medical professionals are given time to vet new drugs.
``Responsible, direct-to-consumer advertising should inform and educate patients about treatable conditions and available therapies, but must be truthful, not misleading,'' said Craig Orfield, a spokesman for Republican Senator Michael Enzi of Wyoming, in an e-mailed statement today
Enzi and Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts will be reintroducing a bill that gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to require that advertising on certain drugs be cleared prior to publication and that there be a two- year wait on ads for new drugs, Orfield said.
Representatives of drugmakers and their trade associations agreed earlier this month to pay fees to have television commercials reviewed in advance by the FDA for the first time. The agency, which already reviews commercials, said it anticipated collecting about $6.25 million in fees next year to hire 27 additional staff to speed the process. Submitting commercials for review now is voluntary.
London-based Glaxo, the world's second-largest drug company by sales, outspent its larger rival, New York-based Pfizer Inc., by $215 million, the Neilsen data showed. Pfizer spent $542.5 million to advertise drugs, including $118.7 million for its top-selling Lipitor cholesterol pill.
Glaxo makes six products including Advair on Nielsen's list of the 20 most advertised drugs of 2005. The others are Boniva, an osteoporosis drug; Avodart, a drug to treat enlarged prostate; Requip, for restless leg syndrome; Valtrex, for genital herpes; and Imitrex, which treats migraines.
For every 10 percent increase in advertising for a given type of medicine, prescription sales for the category rise 1 percent, according to a 2003 study by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation of Menlo Park, California. In 2002, every extra dollar drug companies spent on ads pushed up revenue by $4.20, the research found.
GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne didn't immediately return an email or a telephone call seeking comment. Sanofi spokesman Jean-Marc Podvin didn't immediately return an email, and a message left with Sepracor's public relations staff wasn't returned.