Company news: eMarketer, Pfizer

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Pharma may be pushing past its digital distaste. A report by research group eMarketer forecasts US digital pharma and healthcare industry ad spend on paid media will grow at a compound annual rate of 14.1% between 2011 and 2016. That is the average rate for online ad spending as a whole, said eMarketer. However, that's off a much smaller base than most other industries' estimate for this year -- spending will total $1.58 billion this year en route to $2.48 billion by 2016, eMarketer predicted -- meaning pharma is still catching up on digital compared to sectors like retail, automotive and CPG. The industry is not just increasing its outlay to promote drugs that have lost their patent luster. “Marketers are ramping up to promote a crop of new, specialized products that treat less common diseases,” Victoria Petrock, an eMarketer senior analyst, said in a statement. It's promoting these products using more targeted digital channels to reach audiences in a customized, engaging manner. Still, she wrote, regulations and expiring patents will continue to temper growth from larger players' digital ad budgets.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its go-ahead for administering Pfizer's pneumococcal vaccine, Prevnar 13, to adults 19 or older with compromised immune systems. The recommendation follows the FDA's decision to green-light use in adults 50 and older in December 2011, and the CDC's recommendation expands the potential patient pool to include individuals with HIV, cancer and advanced kidney disease. People with other conditions can be candidates, as well. The vaccine, which Pfizer acquired in its 2009 purchase of Wyeth, generated almost $3.7 billion in sales last year and was first approved two years ago for children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years.

Lyrica's latest approval, for treating neuropathic pain related to spinal injuries, could push sales beyond last year's $3.69 billion. Pfizer said the new indication, announced Thursday, could help about 40% of spinal injury patients in the US. The FDA had previously approved the drug for diabetic nerve pain, fibromyalgia, shingles-related pain and some seizures.
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