Study: sales support is dwindling, not dead

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Although sales forces are shrinking across the globe, the pharmaceutical industry is still pouring money into promotion -- albeit 4% less than in 2010.

The study, by Cegedim Strategic Data, shows that the industry's $29 billion promotional investment in the US had some sweet spots, particularly for marketers in the three categories which dominated promotional ad budgets: CNS, cardiovascular and metabolic. Cegedim says these three categories accounted for 47% of the industry's promotional budgets last year.

Sampling has continued to slide, falling 3% in the US last year. That follows a 13% decline in sampling for the previous year. Pharmas also continued to dial back detailing support, cutting spend 6% last year (following a 4% drop in 2010).

And yet, Cegedim's data shows that dwindling support doesn't mean mainstays like samples and detailing are dead -– Boehringer Ingelheim courted internists, group practitioners, cardiologists and practice nurses for a total of 1.5 million Pradaxa detailing sessions last year. The company's $464 million investment in promoting the blood thinner represents a massive increase from the $67 million the company put behind it in 2010.

With product portfolios at many companies skewing toward more mature products, a number saw substantial support in 2010. Lilly dedicated approximately $276 million for its antidepressant Cymbalta which is promoted through a mix of samples, detailing and DTC, even though the drug is slated to go generic next year.

E-detailing, which Cegedim analyst Jerry Maynor notes can include anything from a video chat to a doctor checking a website, is increasing. Cegedim found that AstraZeneca was a major player in the e-detailing channel, and upped its electronic contacts for its statin Crestor to 66,843– an increase of 312% over 2010, and supported 61,000 e-details for its osteoarthritis drug Vimovo last year, a 215% increase from 2010.
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