OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but according to Wonkblog, a blog published by the Washington Post, and based on data from Kantar Health, “drug companies are bombarding your TV with more ads than ever.”
“Maybe you’ve noticed that prescription drug ads are everywhere these days — more so than usual,” quips the blog. “It was just a few years ago that TV advertisements of prescription drugs had dropped off by 20 percent, as drugmakers were also cutting back on other types of direct-to-consumer advertising” (read, for example, “Pharma DTC Ad Spending Took a Nosedive in 2012!“).
According to Kantar Media data, the pharmaceutical industry spent $4.5 billion marketing prescription drugs directly to consumers in 2014, up from $3.5 billion in 2012. That’s up from the $2.5 billion drugmakers spent in 2000, or $3.39 billion in 2015 dollars when adjusted for inflation, according to Wonkblog. Most of that spending — about 65% — is on TV ads.
Here’s my chart showing DTC spending on “measured media,” which includes print ads and Internet display ads, from 1998 through 2014.
Pfizer’s Viagra and and Eli Lilly’s Cialis are ranked among the top five drugs advertised to consumers in 2014, according to Kantar. “Pfizer’s advertising budget for its ‘little blue pill’ has more than doubled in the past five years to $232 million,” notes the Wonkblog post, “and the company notably started marketing directly to women in a new ad campaign that drops the long-running innuendo associated with its groundbreaking product” (for more on that, read, “Oh Yeah, Baby! Show Me More!… Viagra TV Ads Like This. But Don’t Let My FDA See It!“).
Looks like the top five are competing with one another to see which can spend the most on DTC advertising: