Rx Drug Sales Increased 18% in 2001 As a Result of Television Ads, Study Finds
Prescription drug sales rose 17.9% in 2001 as a result of television advertising, the aging of the baby boom generation and increased use of expensive new medications, according to a study released yesterday by the health care information company NDCHealth. The New York Times reports that Americans paid about $208 billion last year for prescription drugs, almost twice the amount spent in 1996. The sales increase was driven by price hikes by drug makers and greater use of high-cost medicines created through biotechnology, the study found. The study also found that the total number of prescriptions rose 6.6% last year to 3.3 billion -- the "equivalent of almost one prescription a month for every American." Pharmaceutical companies "slowed the rapid pace" of some promotional spending, as the drug firms spent only 6% more last year on sales representatives, consumer advertising and meetings with doctors. Those promotional costs increased by over 19% in 2000. NDCHealth's Sheldon Silverberg said, "This is a very healthy industry" (Petersen, New York Times, 3/8).