Pharmaceutical companies in the US face the ongoing challenges of a new regulatory climate and expiring patents for several blockbuster drugs. Research company Cegedim Strategic Data found that US pharma firms had reduced their overall promotional spending by 8% year over year to $27.35 billion total in 2012. eMarketer, meanwhile, estimates that digital ad spending in the US by the healthcare and pharma industry will reach $1.19 billion in 2013 and climb to $1.33 billion by 2016.
Cegedim found that pharmaceuticals were backing away quickly from print advertising, for which spending dropped 44%, as well as direct-to-consumer advertising, which saw a 22% decline. In fact, direct mail was the only channel for which spending increased, growing by 16% to $1.16 billion.
Detailing, a one-to-one approach used by pharma firms to educate physicians about new products, garnered the largest outlay—nearly $15 billion. The next largest promotional channel was samples, at $5.72 billion.
Among the drug companies, Pfizer was first in overall promotional spending in 2012, doling out $2.39 billion and accounting for 9% of the total ad market. That was followed by Merck & Co. ($2.11 billion), AstraZeneca ($1.78 billion) and then Lilly ($1.64 billion).
With competition from generics for blockbuster drugs looming, pharma companies will have to focus on niche drugs and also increasingly rely on online and mobile platforms to capture their target audience of physicians.
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