AbbVie's Humira, Pfizer's Lyrica kick off 2016 with hefty TV ad spend

A new year means new advertising budgets, and pharma is already off to a big start. TV ad spending by pharma's top 10 brands topped $162 million in January and $126 million in February, according to real-time TV tracker iSpot.tv. Both monthly totals blew away last fall's top 10 spending totals, which ranged from $93 million to $114 million from September through December.

Why the big increases? Some of it can be explained by pricier ads.

The professional football playoff season in January, for instance, meant drugmakers securing those NFL placements paid a premium. The Super Bowl in February also had an impact; three of that month's top 10 splurged on the estimated $5 million-per-30-second spots. AstraZeneca ($AZN), the No. 2 spender in February, bought a :60 time slot, meaning that about $10 million of its estimated $16 million spent in on TV--more than 60%--can be attributed to the Super Bowl.

However, AbbVie's ($ABBV) Humira was far and away the biggest TV spender both months, airing 7 TV ads across its three different indications: arthritis, Crohn's disease and psoriasis. Its aggressive push, which included NFL buys and popular, aka expensive, shows like "American Idol," could be a last hurrah as it readies to go off patent in the U.S. late this year.

While analysts differ on the immediate effect of the patent plunge, some analysts predict that Humira sales will take a big hit by 2018. For now, though, the drug is still seeing robust sales. Its 2015 fourth quarter revenue grew by 10.5% year-over-year, taking in $3.72 billion worldwide, with $2.33 billion of that in the U.S. During the Q4 earnings call, CEO Richard Gonzalez reassured investors that AbbVie isn't seeing any kind of slowdown for the brand in the U.S. Humira revenue for 2015 was $14 billion globally, more than half in the States.

Pfizer's ($PFE) Lyrica also posted a big January spend with more than $24.6 million on 6 different spots for its fibromyalgia and diabetic nerve pain indications. It was the overall top TV pharma advertiser in 2015, spending more than $116 million, according to iSpot.tv data.

February Super Bowl ads from AZ--an awareness campaign for opioid-induced constipation--as well as Valeant's ($VRX) product spots for Xifaxan and Jublia, pushed spending up for the month, although it was still well below the January zenith. Humira, however, still bested the Super Bowl spots totaling more than $19 million in TV ad spending for the month.

January branded pharma TV ad spending

1. AbbVie's Humira $34,505,709 2. Pfizer's Lyrica $24,633,634 3. Roche's Tamiflu $19,669,776 4. Pfizer's Eliquis $13,741,838 5. Pfizer's Xeljanz $12,870,947 6. GlaxoSmithKline's Breo $10,834,552 7. Novo Nordisk's Victoza $10,605,683 8. AstraZeneca's Farxiga $9,622,818 9. Boehringer Ingelheim's Jardiance $9,551,618 10. Valeant's Xifaxan $8,419,934

February TV ad spending

1. Humira
Last month: No. 1
AbbVie anti-inflammatory drug
Total estimated spending: $19.2 million (down from $34.5 million in Jan.)
# of spots: 7: 3 for arthritis, 2 for Crohn's and 2 for psoriasis
Ad with the biggest spend: Food Drive (arthritis)
Estimated spend on that ad: $4.54 million

2. AstraZeneca
Last month: Not on list
Disease awareness ad for OIC
Total estimated spending: $16.4 million
# of spots: 4
Ad with the biggest spend: Envy
Estimated spend on that ad: $15.1 million

3. Xifaxan
Last month: No. 10
Valeant IBS-D treatment
Total estimated spending: $15.6 million (up from $8.4 million in Jan.)
# of spots: 3
Ad with the biggest spend: Football Game
Estimated spend on that ad: $12.1 million

4. Eliquis
Last month: No. 4
Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb anticoagulant
Total estimated spending: $13.9 million (down from $13.7 million in Jan.)
# of spots: 2
Ad with the biggest spend: Bringing My Best
Estimated spend on that ad: $8 million

5. Tamiflu
Last month: No. 3
Roche's flu treatment
Total estimated spending: $12.1 million (down from $19.7 million in Jan.)
# of spots: 2
Ad with the biggest spend: A Big Solution
Estimated spend on that ad: $6.8 million

6. Jublia
Last month: Not on list
Valeant anti-fungal treatment
Total estimated spending: $10.8 million
# of spots: 2
Ad with the biggest spend: Best Kept Secret
Estimated spend on that ad: $6.6 million

7. Farxiga
Last month: No. 8
AstraZeneca's Type II diabetes drug
Total estimated spending: $10.4 million (up from $9.6 million in Jan.)
# of spots: 1 – Everyday People

8. Breo
Last month: No. 6
GlaxoSmithKline's respiratory drug
Total estimated spending: $9.4 million (down from $10.8 million in Jan.)
# of spots: 1 – Missing Piece

9. Lyrica
Last month: No. 2
Pfizer seizure and pain drug
Total estimated spending: $9.2 million (down from $24.6 million in Jan.)
# of spots: 5
Ad with the biggest spend: Before Fibromyalgia
Estimated spend on that ad: $3.5 million

10. Cialis
Last month: Not on the list
Eli Lilly erectile dysfunction drug
Total estimated spending: $8.8 million
# of spots: 1 – Why Pause?

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