Spending on consumer ads up in 2000

May 1, 2001

Pharmaceutical Representative

Pharmaceutical manufacturers spent $1.9 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs between January and September 2000, the same amount spent in all of 1999, according to Newtown, PA-based Scott-Levin's "Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Audit." The audit, which surveyed over 4,000 consumers and 3,000 physicians, found that two major therapeutic classes - antihistamines and COX-2 inhibitors - generated 20% ($390 million) of advertising expenditures in the first nine months of 2000.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers spent $1.9 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs between January and September 2000, the same amount spent in all of 1999, according to Newtown, PA-based Scott-Levin's "Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Audit." The audit, which surveyed over 4,000 consumers and 3,000 physicians, found that two major therapeutic classes - antihistamines and COX-2 inhibitors - generated 20% ($390 million) of advertising expenditures in the first nine months of 2000.

Antihistamines and COX-2 inhibitors

Spending on antihistamines continues to outpace other therapeutic classes, according to Scott-Levin. The $197.2 million spent by manufacturers to advertise their allergy products to consumers accounted for 10.2% of all industry spending on DTC advertising between January and September 2000.

In terms of print ad recall, a key measure of ad effectiveness, consumers seem to remember drugs moderately well. The audit found that:


•Â Within the antihistamine market, consumers in the third quarter of 2000 were just as likely to remember seeing a print ad for Kenilworth, NJ-based Schering-Plough Corp.'s Claritin-D® (loratadine/pseudoephedrine sulfate, USP) (17%) as they were to remember seeing an ad for Parsippany, NJ-based Aventis Pharma AG's Allegra® (fexofenadine HCl) (17%).


•Â Of the consumers who remembered seeing the Claritin-D ad, only 3% could correctly identify the name of the product as Claritin-D, but 34% identified it as "classic" Claritin. Consumers who recalled seeing the Allegra ad were able to correctly identify it 22% of the time. Ads for New York-based Pfizer Inc.'s Zyrtec® (cetirizine HCl) were remembered by 11% of consumers, with 20% of those recalling the ad correctly identifying the brand.


• In the third quarter of 2000, 12% of physicians noticed an increase in patient-initiated discussions about Allegra, and 75% of those doctors indicated that requests for the product had grown. Fourteen percent of doctors reported an increase in discussions about Claritin, and 76% of those physicians also noticed an increase in requests. Five percent of physicians noticed an increase in Zyrtec discussions, and 79% of those doctors also reported an increase in requests.

COX-2 inhibitors finished second in spending on consumer advertising in the first nine months of 2000. Some highlights:


•Â Expenditures on consumer ads for Whitehouse Station, NJ-based Merck & Co. Inc.'s Vioxx® (rofecoxib tablets) and Peapack, NJ-based Pharmacia Corp. and Pfizer's Celebrex™ (celecoxib) totaled $192.9 million (9.9% of the industry total).


•Â The Celebrex print advertisement was seen by 30% of consumers and correctly identified by 13% of those consumers. The Vioxx ad was seen by 21% of consumers and correctly identified by 19%.


•Â About 22% of surveyed physicians noted an increase in patient-initiated discussions about Celebrex, and 78% of those doctors heard more requests for the drug. About 18% said more patients started discussions about Vioxx, and 83% of those doctors received more requests for the brand.

Physician/consumer opinions

Attitudes toward direct-to-consumer ads varied among physicians and consumers, according to the audit. In the third quarter of 2000, 39% of consumers were positive about DTC ads, 22% were negative and 39% were neutral.

In contrast, 45% of physicians were negative about DTC ads, 28% were positive and 26% were neutral. PR

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