Medical Journals See Brighter Ad Outlook

Medical journals deliver a unique audience to the pharmaceutical industry. Certainly the industry spends vast sums marketing its latest products directly to consumers. But for any drug to achieve big sales, it must find acceptance by an important gatekeeper, the physician who writes the prescription. These days, as regulations have crimped the style of drug detail reps who distribute samples to physicians, medical journals can have an important influence on busy pediatricians and internists.

Along with the rest of the magazine industry, medical journals witnessed a steep decline in 2009. Revenues dropped overall by 21% to a total of $341 million.  This drop translated to a loss of over 1/​3rd of industry revenues between  2006 and 2009. Despite this grim news, James Chase, writing for Medical Marking & Media, sees reason for optimism.

Here are the drug categories that had the fastest growth rates in medical journal advertising in 2009 and might be expected to continue growing in 2010:

  • Antidepressants
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Urinary tract antispasmodics
  • Transplant/​immunosuppressives

Chase also reports that Forest Laboratories was responsible for advertising more top brands than any other pharma company in 2009. The company’s heavily promoted products are:

  • Lexapro
  • Savella tablets
  • Bystolic

In general, specialty publications, such as those which target oncologists, appear to be pulling in more ad dollars than general medical journals. This strategy makes sense as marketers use their budgets to target specific audiences. And while medical journals are looking to digital channels for future revenue, Chase indicates that the industry should fare better in 2010 as the first quarter showed an improvement particularly  “in the primary care space.”

[Source: Chase, James. “Journal Ad Review: Down But Not Out.” Medical Marketing & Media. 15 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Apr. 2010] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.