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Pharmaceutical Companies Are Reducing Promotional Spending

FRIDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Pharmaceutical companies have been reducing the amount of money they spend on promotion to consumers and providers over the past decade and spend much less to promote biologics compared with small molecule drugs, according to a study published online March 4 in PLOS ONE.

Rachel Kornfield, of the University of Illinois at Chicago's Institute of Health Research and Policy, and colleagues analyzed data from Kantar Media on direct-to-consumer advertising and data from IMS Health and SDI on provider-targeted promotion from 2001 to 2010.

The researchers found that total promotion peaked at $36.1 billion in 2004 (13.4 percent of sales) and declined to $27.7 billion by 2010 (9 percent of sales). Direct-to-consumer advertising and provider-targeted promotion also each fell by 25 percent from 2006 to 2010. Direct-to-consumer advertising peaked at 18 percent of total promotion in 2006, declining to 16 percent and remaining highly concentrated. While a peak of over 3,000 products were promoted to providers in 2004, this declined by 20 percent by 2010. Top-selling biologics were promoted less than top-selling small molecule drugs ($33 million and 1.4 percent of sales, compared with $370 million and 8.8 percent of sales). There was little change in the composition of promotion between primary care physicians and specialists from 2001 to 2010.

"Manufacturers of branded pharmaceuticals continue to expend considerable sums on promotion to consumers and providers," the authors write. "However, in the context of marketplace changes, firms are decreasing spending but changing little about how expenditures are allocated across types of promotion."

Two authors are consultants for IMS Health.

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