Drug Industry’s Spending on Marketing Continues To Increase, Study Finds
Total spending on advertising by the pharmaceutical industry has increased by an average of 10.6% annually since 1996, when a rule change allowed drug companies to advertise directly to consumers, according to a study published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters/Newark Star-Ledger reports.
For the study, Julie Donohue of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and colleagues analyzed industry data from three market-research firms that track drug industry advertising spending.
According to the study, researchers "also obtained information from researchers and staff members at the FDA and other government agencies."
The study found that overall spending on drug advertising increased from $11.4 billion in 1996 to $29.9 billion in 2005. Direct-to-consumer advertisements, which account for 14% of total advertising spending by the industry, increased by 330% from 1996 to 2005, the study found.
Despite the increased spending on drug promotion, researchers said evidence suggests that regulation of the ads is lacking. "In 2004, four (FDA) staffers were reviewing [DTC] advertisements, even though spending on this form of advertising (and probably the volume of ads to review) had increased by 45%, from $2.9 billion to $4.2 billion," according to the study. Researchers found that FDA sent 21 letters in 2006 to drug companies warning them that their ads were minimizing risks or exaggerating effectiveness, compared with 142 letters in 1997. In addition, FDA in 1999 reviewed a ratio of 64% of ads broadcast on television, compared with 32% of ads in 2004, the study found (Emery, Reuters/Newark Star-Ledger, 8/16). The study is available online.