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There Are Over 3 Billions Reasons (Per Year) For the Media To Play It Cool With Big Pharma

In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration permitted prescription drug companies to start publicizing their products directly to consumers in television advertisements. This practice is globally banned except in the US and New Zealand.  

According to Katherine Ellen Foley, a health and science reporter based on Washington, In 1997, drug companies spent roughly $17.1 billion on marketing for prescription drugs and any health conditions that may be associated with them. (A relatively paltry $600 million was spent to market condition awareness, health services, and lab testing.) By 2016, that figure was $26.9 billion. Simultaneously, total US spending on prescription drugs skyrocketed from $116.4 billion to $329 billion.

Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin, two physicians at Dartmouth who also study medical communication, combed through data available from three media-monitoring groups and the US National Health Expenditure Accounts. Of all the money spent advertising drugs, the majority went towards efforts to market to doctors. In 1997, the total spending on marketing to physicians was $15.6 billion. By 2016, it was $20.3 billon. Marketing to physicians includes sending paid representatives to doctors’ offices to talk about a drug, free samples of it, or compensating physicians for speaking engagements about the drug. (ProPublica created a tool you can use to see if your doctor has been compensated by pharmaceutical companies.)

You can read her full report in this link HARD TO SWALLOW: Big Pharma spent an additional $9.8 billion on marketing in the past 20 years. It worked,

Pharmaceutical industry TV ad spend in the U.S 2016-2019

Statista.com, published that in 2018 the pharmaceutical industry spent 3.79 billion U.S. dollars on advertising on national TV in the United States, only slightly more than the investments in TV ads recorded for the previous year, signaling a stagnation in traditional advertising, perhaps in favor of digital promotion.

It is also worrying to see how big pharmaceutical companies are spending far more budget on marketing than research:

Source: Global Data

Ana Swason from The Washington Post states: ”Most of this marketing money is directed at the physicians who do the prescribing, rather than consumers. Drug companies spent more than $3 billion a year marketing to consumers in the U.S. in 2012, but an estimated $24 billion marketing directly to health care professionals. Read full report at The Washington Post.

This marketing spending machine also have other major collaterals effects. According to The Guardian Pharmaceutical companies spend far more than any other industry to influence politicians. Drugmakers have poured close to $2.5bn into lobbying and funding members of Congress over the past decade. While lobbying shapes medical policy across the board, it has had a profound impact on the opioid epidemic as deaths quadrupled between 1999 and 2015. The pharmaceutical industry poured resources into attempting to place blame for the crisis on the millions who have became addicted instead of on the mass prescribing of powerful opioids. Read full story in this link How big pharma’s money – and its politicians – feed the US opioid crisis

By Keyla Sweeney

About the author:

Marketer with a Master degree in International Affairs from the University Of Provence. Over 15 years of experience of media (traditional, non-traditional and digital) planning and investment in multiple industries.

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