Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Pharma Drug Ads: A Glass Half Empty is a Glass Half Full

Pharma Drug Ads: A Glass Half Empty is a Glass Half Full | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

As spending by drug-makers on consumer-focused advertising grows by nearly $1 billion per year, Kantar survey research of physicians and patients shows some striking correspondence of opinion about the impact of all the ads.


Consumer ad spending by drug makers in 2015 reached $6.09 billion, according to Kantar Media, after $5.12 billion was spent in 2014 and $4.29 billion was spent in 2013. In 2012, $3.89 billion was spent, representing a much smaller, $400 million increase year-over-year to 2013.


These totals include spending on branded prescription drug ads plus unbranded ads by drug companies promoting awareness of a health condition and directing consumers to get more information, usually leading them to a company website where the prescription drug is offered as a treatment option.


The soaring ad spend has come from two sources. First, a rising number of prescription drugs are being promoted with meaningful ad budgets as evidenced by the count of brands spending at least $500,000 annually: from 147 in 2012 to 153 in 2013 to 184 in 2014 to 215 last year. Second, there has been an uptick in big-budget marketing launches for new drugs which has also boosted category spending totals.


A February 2016 survey of physicians by Kantar’s Lightspeed All Global found 40% saying consumer-targeted prescription drug ads has hurt their interactions with patients. Among the reasons volunteered by physicians interviewed for the survey:


Patients pressuring doctors to prescribe something they know little about.


Patients self-diagnosing and telling doctors what treatment they need, when most times they are wrong, which then also wastes time.


Patients getting all the wrong information, requiring some doing to help straighten out their thinking.


Patients getting hung up on the side effects reported on TV that have nothing to do with them, which creates fear.


Kantar Health’s 2015 National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS), which documents patient-reported information, shows 37% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the statement that “drug ads help [them] have better discussions with [their] doctor,” corresponding with the 40% of physicians who say drug ads hurt their interactions with patients.


In other words, looking across the research results, for every patient who feels empowered by the information contained in the drug advertisements, a physician—or two—feels undermined or inconvenienced by them.


Also worth noting, however, is that if 40% of physicians think drug advertising compromises their position or their authority with their patients, per the Lightspeed All Global data, a solid majority of 60% do not find that to be the case.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Also read: "The Impact of Pharma's Consumer Advertising Spend on Patient-Physician Interactions"; 

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Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Drug Ad Spending Ties Record Set in 2006

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Drug Ad Spending Ties Record Set in 2006 | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

It's a tie. Pharma advertisers spent $5.4 billion in 2015, tying the previous industry record set in 2006, according to new data from Kantar Media. That's an increase of 19% over the category's $4.53 billion tally for 2014.

Kantar, which is expected to release the full data next week, prereleased the 2015 total along with the top five drug brands spending to FiercePharmaMarketing. The top five spending tracks with the overall accelerated spending trend and rose to $1.34 billion, an increase of 14% from $1.15 billion in 2014. Four of the top five drugs notched spending increases in 2015, with three leaping more than 30% year over year.

Leading the Kantar list is AbbVie's ($ABBV) blockbuster anti-inflammatory Humira with spending of more than $357 million on TV, print, radio and accumulated advertising. That's an increase of more than 37% over last year's No. 2 ad spend of $260 million. AbbVie seems determined to send the drug out with a bang as it loses patent protection later this year and soon will face biosimilar competition.

Pharma Guy's insight:

This data from Kantar updates previous data reported by Nielsen, which estimated 2015 DTC spending to be $5.2. See here: 

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