Health Inc.

Drug Companies Spend Less On Ads Aimed At Consumers

For many people, nothing drug companies do is quite as aggravating as their pitches about prescription medicines.

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. i i

Click on image for full-size chart of promotional spending. CBO hide caption

itoggle caption CBO
Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.

Click on image for full-size chart of promotional spending.


Those ubiquitous TV spots for pills to treat erectile dysfunction and enlarged prostates, to name just two big categories, can spark all kinds of unintended family conversations.

So would it surprise you to learn that drugmakers' spending on advertising to consumers is down lately? Just take a look at the chart from an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office by clicking on the image above, which shows a small decline since 2006.

Drugmakers are still spending oodles on TV and radio commercials, Internet pitches and print ads aimed at folks like you. In 2008, the figure was $4.7 billion, according to the data crunched by CBO.

Still, spending on direct-to-consumer advertising constitutes only about a quarter of drugmakers' marketing budgets, with most of the money still being spend on salespeople calling on doctors' offices. That's called detailing, in industry argot. And drug companies spent $12 billion on that sort of selling in 2008. Marketing at meetings and spending on ads in medical journals are the other major categories.

For a deeper look at the marketing spending on 10 categories of drugs, see the CBO chart below.

Mother breastfeeds a child. i i

Click to enlarge. CBO hide caption

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Mother breastfeeds a child.

Click to enlarge.




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