New Class of Drugs to Spur DTC Pharma Spending

With $27 billion spent on promotions in 2012, the pharmaceutical industry is going strong. Spending remains steady for pharmatop categories. While direct-​to-​consumer  (DTC) ad spending dropped last year, analysts are looking for an increase this year because a new category of drugs, SGLT‑2 inhibitors, is expected to come into the market and it will require a heavy educational advertising component.

As any heavy TV viewer can tell you, the top categories for DTC pharmaceutical marketing are nervous system, cardiovascular, and alimentary tract and metabolism. The prescription drugs designed to treat disorders in these systems account for about 50% of all DTC advertising.

In general, pharmaceutical companies use the following media mix to promote their drugs:

  • Samples $5.7 billion
  • Detailing $15.7 billion
  • DTC $3.7 billion
  • Meetings: $2.1 billion
  • Clinical trials: $133 million

Pharmaceutical firms spend $1.1 billion on direct mail every year to both medical professionals and consumers. This amount has been rising while print advertising has been falling. In addition to targeting physicians and consumers, some pharmaceutical advertising also targets pharmacists – about $1.4 billion.

This year, major marketers are waiting for approval on SGLT‑2 inhibitor drugs. These medications are designed to lower glucose levels in diabetes patients and may have the side benefit of spurring weight loss. As with any new class of medication, pharmaceutical companies will spend significant sums to educate and raise consumer awareness.

[Sources: Marketing to U.S. Pharmacists. Cegedim​.com. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2013; Silverman, Ed. Pharma Spent Less. Pharmalot​.com. Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2013] 
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.