AbbVie, Novo Nordisk lead pharma TV advertisers into big-spending January

watching TV
TV viewers at home during the winter months are seeing lots of pharma TV ads for branded drugs. (Getty Images)

Pharma marketers are continuing their TV ad push into 2021. January pharma TV spending picked up where December ended—matching branded ad spending among the top 10 almost dollar for dollar.

The highest spenders racked up $216 million for the month after a robust $217 million December, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv.

Now, with the third month in a row of the top 10 clearing $200 million, are pharma companies setting a new standard for TV spending?

Maybe. Five autoimmune disease treatments and three diabetes meds at the top of the list may point to increases in categories' competition. That could, in turn, foster hand-in-hand media buying increases to get TV mindshare.

Cancer drugmakers are another category currently vying for TV watchers’ attention. Bristol Myers Squibb’ Opdivo and Yervoy immunotherapy combo is tenth on the list with $13 million in spending after adding a second commercial in January. And Merck’s Keytruda was just a few spots behind, spending its own $12 million on TV ads during the year's first month.

Pfizer's Xeljanz also added a new commercial in January called "Pine Needles," keeping with its no-needle, "unjection" oral pill option message for rheumatoid arthritis.

In all, 15 brands spent more than $10 million on national TV ads in January, according to iSpot data.

January's $216 top 10 total continued the spending uptick from November, which saw $204 million, and October’s $187 million.

1. Humira
Movement: Stayed the same
What is it? AbbVie anti-inflammatory drug
Total estimated spending: $43.2 million (down from $45.4 million in December)
Number of spots: Four (Two for arthritis/psoriasis, two for ulcerative colitis/Crohn's)
Biggest-ticket ad: “Body of Proof: Drums” with COVID help message (est. $15.7 million)
 


2. Rybelsus
Movement:
Up from No. 5
What is it? Novo Nordisk oral GLP-1 diabetes med
Total estimated spending: $33.6 million (up from $21.3 million in December)
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Wake Up” (est. $23.5 million)


3. Dupixent
Movement: Stayed the same
What is it? Regeneron and Sanofi atopic dermatitis and asthma treatment
Total estimated spending: $20 million (down from $23.4 million in December)
Number of spots: Six (Three for atopic dermatitis, three for asthma)
Biggest-ticket ad: “Du More: Backyards and Rain” (est. $5.3 million)


4. Skyrizi
Movement:
Not on the list last month
What is it? AbbVie IL-23 next-gen psoriasis treatment
Total estimated spending: $19.6 million
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “Nothing is Everything” (est. $14 million)


5. Ozempic
Movement: Down from No. 4
What is it? Novo Nordisk GLP-1 diabetes med
Total estimated spending: $19.5 million (down from $21.9 million in December)
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Artist”


6. Trulicity
Movement: Not on the list last month
What is it? Eli Lilly GLP-1 diabetes drug
Total estimated spending: $18.3 million
Number of spots: Four
Biggest-ticket ad: “Power From Within” (est. $11 million)


7. Eliquis
Movement:
 Up from No. 9
What is it? Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb next-gen anticoagulant
Total estimated spending: $17.6 million (up from $13.7 million in December)
Number of spots: Four
Biggest-ticket ad: “What’s Next: Still on the Road” (est. $5.3 million)


8. Xeljanz
Movement:
Down from No. 2
What is it? Pfizer oral rheumatoid arthritis therapy
Total estimated spending: $17.5 million (down from $27.6 million in December)
Number of spots: Five
Biggest-ticket ad: “Pine Needles” (est. $6.3 million)

*Editor's note: Ad not available on iSpot.tv

9. Enbrel
Movement:
Down from No. 8
What is it? Amgen TNF inhibitor to treat autoimmune diseases
Total estimated spending: $13.6 million (down from $16.3 million in December)
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Erin & Margo”


10. Opdivo and Yervoy
Movement
: Down from No. 7
What is it? BMS dual-immunotherapy regimen
Total estimated spending: $13.3 million (down from $17.1 million in December)
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “A Chance For More” (est. $9.3 million)