Drugmakers Reduce Spending on Prescription Drug Advertising
Drugmakers in 2008 reduced their spending on consumer advertising of prescription drugs by 8% to $4.4 billion, the first cutback since at least the late 1990s, the Wall Street Journal reports. Print advertising for pharmaceuticals declined by 18%, while television advertising declined by 4%, according to IMS Health.
Prescription drug advertisements "have surged" since 1997 when FDA relaxed restrictions on direct-to-consumer drug advertising, according to the Journal. Spending on such ads reached a high of $4.8 billion in 2007, compared with less than $1 billion in 1997, according to IMS data.
The reduction in advertising spending can be attributed to fewer new drugs and heightened congressional scrutiny of drug marketing practices, experts said. For example, Merck and Schering-Plough, which jointly market the cholesterol drug Vytorin, reduced their overall consumer ad spending in 2008 to $47 million from $114 million following criticism from Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) over ads for Vytorin that ran while the companies delayed unfavorable study results, the Journal reports.
According to IMS, which consults for drugmakers and investors, pharmaceutical companies went too far on print and TV advertising spending reductions. IMS researcher John Busbice said, "They should optimally be pushing back up again" (Winstein/Vranica, Wall Street Journal, 4/16).