Blockbusters and cliffhangers: April's top TV ad spenders

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The list of top pharma TV spenders for April featured blockbusters and cliffhangers. The top three spenders Lyrica, Humira and Latuda, in fact, have been major blockbusters for their manufacturers, but are also facing sooner-rather-than-later patent expirations.

No. 1 Pfizer’s pain and seizure drug Lyrica spent almost $26 million for the month, easily doubling its ad spend from the previous month and unseating AbbVie's Humira from its top-spender position, according to real time TV tracker iSpot.tv.

Pfizer's top seller, Lyrica has been in the news as it tries to fight off generics by defending its pain-indication patent. Pfizer lost that battle in the U.K., where generics have since made their debut, but in the U.S., a patent decision blocks generics until 2018. The Lyrica TV spot that garnered the most spending was Coach, a new creative execution about a female softball coach focused on fibromyalgia pain.

Up next on the April TV spender list was Humira, which until now has held the top spot every month in 2016. The AbbVie anti-inflammatory brand split $24 million on TV ads among its three indications for arthritis, Crohn’s disease and colitis, and psoriasis, according to iSpot’s data. Humira’s main patent expires this year; but AbbVie remains confident that it won't face biosimilars in the immediate future. The company sees Humira sales – which make up more than half of its revenue – increasing through 2018, with only small decreases in the following two years. 

The No. 3 spender, Sunovion’s anti-psychotic Latuda, also faces a patent expiration this year, and it dropped more than $17 million on TV ads in April. A new ad launched last month continues its ongoing story of bipolar depression sufferer Amy, but told through the perspective of her husband Scott. 

Three diabetes drugs also made April’s top 10 – AstraZeneca’s Farxiga, Novo Nordisk’s Victoza and Sanofi’s Toujeo – as competition remains fierce in that disease.

Overall spending rebounded among the top 10, totaling $138.6 million in April for a 30% increase over the $108 million spent in March.

1. Lyrica

Movement Up from no. 9 last month
What is it? Pfizer seizure and pain drug
Total estimated spending $25.8M (up from $9.3M in March)
Number of spots 4
Biggest-ticket ad "Coach" (est. $9.8M)

2. Humira

Movement Down from no. 1 last month
What is it? AbbVie anti-inflammatory drug
Total estimated spending $24.1M (up from $15.4M in March)
Number of spots 7 (3 for arthritis, 2 for Crohn's, 2 for psoriasis)
Biggest-ticket ad "Day at the Fair" (est. $5.3M)

3. Latuda

Movement Not on list last month
What is it? Sunovion Pharmaceutical anti-psychotic
Total estimated spending $17.2M 
Number of spots 2
Biggest-ticket ad "Amy's Story" (est. $10.5M)

4. Eliquis

Movement Down from no. 3 last month
What is it? Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb anticoagulant
Total estimated spending $15.3M (up from $11.7M in March)
Number of spots 3
Biggest-ticket ad "DVT and PE Blood Clots" (est. $11.9M)

5. Farxiga

Movement Not on list last month
What is it? AstraZeneca’s SGLT2 diabetes drug
Total estimated spending $12.5M
Number of spots 1
Biggest-ticket ad "Everyday People" 

6. Breo

Movement Down from no. 2 last month
What is it? GlaxoSmithKline respiratory drug
Total estimated spending $11.2M (down from $12.1M in March)
Number of spots 1
Biggest-ticket ad "Missing Piece" 

7. Victoza

Movement Down from no. 6 last month
What is it? Novo Nordisk GLP-1 treatment
Total estimated spending $9.7M (down from $10.3M in March)
Number of spots 3
Biggest-ticket ad "Melody" (est. $5.3M) 

8. Cialis

Movement Down from no. 7 last month
What is it? Eli Lilly erectile dysfunction drug
Total estimated spending $7.9M (down from $9.7M in March)
Number of spots 2
Biggest-ticket ad "Why Pause" (est. $5.6M) 

9. Rexulti

Movement Up from no. 10 last month
What is it? Otsuka and Lundbeck’s anti-psychotic
Total estimated spending $7.5M (down from $9M in March)
Number of spots 1
Biggest-ticket ad "Smiley Face"

10. Toujeo

Movement Not on list last month
What is it? Sanofi's long-lasting basal insulin 
Total estimated spending $7.4M 
Number of spots 1
Biggest-ticket ad "Journal"

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