Claritin leads direct-to-consumer spending surge

April 1, 1999

Pharmaceutical Representative

The pharmaceutical industry spent roughly $1.2 billion on product promotion last year, according to a recent report from IMS Health.

Led by Schering-Plough, maker of Claritin for allergies, the pharmaceutical industry spent roughly $1.2 billion on product promotion last year, according to a recent report from IMS Health.

Altogether, leading companies spent 44% more on advertising products to consumers than they did on promoting them to physicians - a first for drug promotion. Companies spent $665 million on consumers and $462 million on professional customers.

Claritin received the most air time, as Schering-Plough invested $182.9 million - 96% more than the company spent in 1997 - on consumer advertising for the product through November 1998. In contrast, professional promotion of the product increased only 18%.

Pfizer's Zyrtec and Hoecsht Marion Roussel's Allegra, both of which compete with Claritin for market share, were promoted to consumers less aggressively. Zyrtec's budget rose by 9%, with $74.1 million spent on direct-to-consumer advertising and $51.3 million spent on professional promotion, and Allegra's budget inched upward by only 2%, with the heaviest emphasis on promotion to physicians ($57.1 million) vs. promotion to consumers ($52.4 million).

Companies promoting other products have differing opinions on where to spend advertising dollars as well.

Eli Lilly and Co. increased its direct-to-consumer advertising for Prozac by 98%, while Astra gave the greatest boost to professional promotion of Prilosec, spending 90% more than it did in 1997.

According to IMS Health, six of the top 10 direct-to-consumer advertising spenders dedicated more than half of their total promotional budgets to reaching consumers. Of the total budgets spent on direct-to-consumer advertising, Merck spent 82% on Propecia; Schering-Plough spent 71% on Claritin; Glaxo Wellcome spent 71% on Zyban; Pfizer spent 59% on Zyrtec; and Hoecsht Marion Roussel spent 48% on Allegra. PR

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