Pfizer, Crestor tops for global promotional spend in 2011

AstraZeneca teams up with Abbott on Crestor co-promote
AstraZeneca teams up with Abbott on Crestor co-promote

Total global pharma promotional spending fell 3.4% to $92.2 billion in 2011, according to Cegedim Strategic Data, led by a 4.7% decline in detailing spend.

Pfizer remains the industry's top promotional spender, despite a 12% drop in spending to $6 billion in 2011. That puts the New York firm well ahead of No. 2 Novartis, which cut marketing and advertising spend by 10% to $5 billion, and was followed closely by Merck ($4.9 billion, down 7% over 2010). Just two of the top ten advertisers in the sector—No. 4 AstraZeneca and No. 6 Boehringer Ingelheim—increased spending. AstraZeneca marketers saw a 5% bump to their budgets, which totaled $4.2 billion, while Boehringer dialed up its promotional spending by a whopping 19% to $3.3 billion.

AstraZeneca's Crestor was the best-supported brand. The statin's $1.1 billion in promotional spend (unchanged from 2010) accounted for 1.2% of all industry promotional spend. Billion-dollar brands (or thereabouts) included Lilly's Cymbalta, Boehringer's Pradaxa and GSK's Seretide.

Cuts to sales force numbers continued. Pfizer cut around 11% of its field force, estimated at more than 20,000, while Novartis wrought a 9% reduction in reps and Merck cut 7% of sales posts.

Detailing comprises 60% of all promotional spending. DTC advertising, which makes up 9.2% of spend, rose by a percentage point, while spending on meetings, which makes up 14.4% of promotional budgets, sank 4.1%, and spending on samples, which accounts for 10.3% of spend, was flat. Clinical trials, costing 2% of promotional budgets, slid 15.1% in 2011, and professional advertising, worth .8% of spending, slid 12.5%.

North American promotional spending, down 3.1% to $30.6 billion, followed many of the same trends that global spending did, with a few exceptions. North American DTC spend slid 5.4%, while spending on meetings and events, down 4.1% globally, soared 10.9% in the US and Canada, and clinical trials spend, down 15.1% worldwide, rose 9.1% for North America.

Sales force cuts in North America, where detailing comprises 53% of overall promotional spend, were deeper than elsewhere. Pfizer reduced its field force 16%, while Novartis cut 18%, GSK 19% and Abbott a whopping 23%. Adding sales force jobs were AstraZeneca (+11%), Forest Labs (+3%) and Boehringer Ingelheim (+19%).