DTC pharma ad spending slipped 4.6% in 2017: Kantar

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Pharmaceutical companies spent $6.1 billion on direct-to-consumer ads last year, a 4.6% dip from 2016, according to data from Kantar Media.

The figure includes television, magazine, digital, newspaper, radio, and out-of-home advertising.

With the exceptions of the television and newspaper categories, which rose 6.7% and 1.8%, respectively, spending was down or flat across the board. Magazine and digital advertising took the biggest hits: magazine spending slipped 22.7% to $1.3 billion, while digital revenue fell 34.4% to $343 million.

Four of the top five pharma companies by DTC ad spending tightened their budgets last year. Pfizer decreased its budget 7.1% to $1.3 billion while AbbVie and Allergan, respectively, decreased their DTC spend by 6.2% and 13.2%. Merck, the number five drugmaker on the list for 2016 and 2017, spent 4.6% less on DTC ads last year.

Eli Lilly was the exception in the top five. The Indianapolis-based pharma company, which switched to an in-house marketing model last year, upped DTC ad spending by 21.2%, to $480 million. Its portfolio includes erectile dysfunction medication Cialis, autoimmune drug Taltz, Type 2 Diabetes drug Trulicity, and Jardiance, the diabetes drug it comarkets with Boehringer Ingelheim.

Despite reducing its overall ad budget, Pfizer developed or co-developed four of the top five brands with the most DTC ad spending: Lyrica, its drug for diabetic nerve pain and fibromyalgia; Xeljanz, its rheumatoid arthritis drug; the venous thromboembolic drug Eliquis, which Pfizer co-developed with Bristol-Myers Squibb; and Chantix, its drug for treating nicotine addiction.

Yet while Pfizer dominated the top five AbbVie's Humira took the top spot. AbbVie spent $429 million on DTC marketing for the anti-inflammatory drug last year, $79 million more than the ad spend for runner-up Lyrica. However, DTC spending to promote Humira dropped 2.3% from 2016 to 2017.

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