Let's not overstate the case - advertising on pharmaceuticals hasnot disappeared. But there do appear to be fewer ads. Spending fell 6 percent in the first eight months of the year, to $3.2 billion, according to TNS Media Intelligence, and that followed a decline of 3 percent for all of last year to $5.3 billion, Dow Jones reports.
Why? Much of the decline came from a downturn in so-called non-branded advertising, including corporate promotion messages and disease-awareness spots, TNS tells the news service. Another factor appears to be the drop in FDA approvals of new drugs is another factor, since spending on new brands fell 7 percent last year while spending on established brands rose 5 percent.
Before last year, direct-to-consumer advertising was generally increasing and peaked at $5.4 billion in 2006, according to TNS. But, as you may recall, there is a growing backlash, particularly after Merck yanked its heavily promoted Vioxx painkiller four years ago over links to heart attacks and strokes. Last week, Roche pharma exec Bill Burns went so far as to say DTC ads were the "worst decision," because they ruined industry credibility. Of course, Roche hasn't ended its advertising (back story).
Meanwhile, Congressman Henry Waxman wants to renew the call for a ban on DTC ads for new meds (see story below). PhRMA is expected to unveil restrictions that include a specified minimum period of time before advertising can start for a newly approved drug, Dow Jones reminds us, noting that the new measures will update guidelines PhRMA adopted in 2005 that were designed to ensure ads provided accurate and balanced information about safety and effectiveness.