AbbVie's Humira holds on to TV ad crown in December despite Pfizer's year-end Xeljanz push

AbbVie
AbbVie continued its lead in pharma TV advertising with Humira in December, but Pfizer Xeljanz' new indication may mean more DTC competition. (AbbVie)

Could Pfizer's Xeljanz become the 2019 challenger to AbbVie’s Humira TV ad crown? The Pfizer anti-inflammatory drug, now boasting three indications, spent $42.2 million on TV ads in December, just behind the perennial top spender Humira at $44.6 million.

Why? It’s all thanks to Xeljanz’ new indication for ulcerative colitis. It got the nod in May, adding to its rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis nods, but last month Pfizer unleashed a torrent of ad spending to back the new indication. It spent more than $35 million on the introductory ulcerative colitis treatment commercial, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv.

Humira is a competitor but is an anti-TNF drug, unlike Xeljanz, which is the first drug in its class of JAK inhibitors cleared to treat ulcerative colitis. One reason Humira often leads pharma's TV ad spending? It spreads serious cash across the drug's three indications in arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

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Meanwhile, Pfizer’s Prevnar 13 continued its seasonal ad blitz at No. 3 for the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, followed by Eli Lilly’s diabetes med Trulicity at No. 4 and Johnson & Johnson’s Xarelto at No. 5.

Dropping out of sight for the third month in a row was Pfizer’s Lyrica, as the drug, which is facing patent expiration, spent just $2.9 million on TV ads in December.

Overall, TV ad spending by pharma’s top 10 in December was $178 million, fueled in part by chart-toppers Humira and Xeljanz with a $33 million uptick among the top 10. November’s finish was $145 million, which was down from October’s $164 million.

1. Humira
Movement:
Stayed same
What is it? AbbVie anti-inflammatory drug
Total estimated spending: $44.6 million (up from $24.8 million in November)
Number of spots: Seven (Three for arthritis, three for ulcerative colitis/Crohn's, one for psoriasis)
Biggest-ticket ad: “Body of Proof” (est. $19 million)

2. Xeljanz XR
Movement:
Moved up from No. 5
What is it? Pfizer oral rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis med
Total estimated spending: $42.2 million (up from $14.4 million in November)
Number of spots: Five
Biggest-ticket ad: “A Different Direction” (est. $35.5 million)


3. Prevnar 13
Movement:
Moved down from No. 2
What is it? Pfizer's pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine
Total estimated spending: $15 million (down from $18.1 million in November)
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “Don’t Miss Out on Life” (est. $10.2 million)

4. Trulicity 
Movement:
Moved up from No. 6
What is it? Eli Lilly GLP-1 diabetes drug
Total estimated spending: $13.8 million (up from $13.7 million in November)
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “I Can Do More” (est. $8 million)

5. Xarelto
Movement:
Not on list last month
What is it? Johnson & Johnson next-gen anticoagulant
Total estimated spending: $13 million
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Selective” (est. $6.8 million)

6. Otezla
Movement:
Moved up from No. 10
What is it? Celgene oral treatment for plaque psoriasis
Total estimated spending: $12.4 million (up from $9.3 million in November)
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Little Things” (est. $7.4 million)

(Commercial not available at request of advertiser.)

7. Eliquis
Movement:
Down from No. 4
What is it? Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb next-generation anticoagulant
Total estimated spending: $10.3 million (down from $14.6 million in November)
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “What’s Next” (est. $4 million)

8. Jardiance
Movement:
Not on list last month
What is it? Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim SGLT2 diabetes treatment
Total estimated spending: $9.5 million
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Jardiance Asks: Heart”

9. Ozempic
Movement:
Not on list last month
What is it? Novo Nordisk GLP-1 diabetes med
Total estimated spending: $8.6 million
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “Oh!” (est. $7.8 million)

10. Latuda
Movement:
Not on list last month
What is it? Sunovion Pharmaceutical antipsychotic
Total estimated spending: $8.1 million
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Lauren’s Story”
 

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