AbbVie sustains aggressive Humira push, GSK amps up on Breo to top March TV spenders

Humira "Crohn's Disease: Control"

Humira is refusing to go quietly. Even as the anti-inflammatory faces patent expiration in the U.S. later this year, AbbVie ($ABBV) continues not only an aggressive advertising push, but also a similarly strong legal and patent effort to keep biosimilar versions off the market.

In March, AbbVie's TV ad spending on Humira ranked it No. 1 again, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv. It spent $15.3 million on seven different TV spots for its three approved indications during the month.

Humira has been the No. 1 TV advertiser 5 out of the 7 months since FiercePharmaMarketing began reviewing monthly data from iSpot.tv. Not surprisingly, Humira also recently took the top spot for total 2015 advertising as tracked by Kantar Media; it spent $357 million on TV, print, radio, paid search, display and other ad formats for the year.

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) was second for March's TV spot spending with ads for its respiratory drug Breo, spending $12.1 million. It was followed by No. 3 Eliquis, the anticoagulant from Pfizer ($PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), which dropped $11.7 million on TV ads in March. Eliquis was also on the year-end list from Kantar, coming in at No. 3 with spending of $249 million for total advertising spending in 2015.

TV spending by the top pharma marketers was down overall in March, after the new year's kickoff spending months of January and February. The top 10 collectively spent $108 million, down from $126 million in February and $162 million in January. Part of the reason was the lack of expensive TV placements, such as the NFL playoffs in January and the Super Bowl in February, which pulled in two pharma advertisers as buyers of its pricey $5 million per :30 spots.

March TV ad spending

1. Humira
Last month: No. 1
AbbVie anti-inflammatory drug
Total estimated spending: $15.4 million (down from $19.2 million in Feb.)
# of spots: 7: 3 for arthritis, 2 for Crohn's and 2 for psoriasis
Ad with the biggest spend: Crohn's Disease Control
Estimated spend on that ad: $4.2 million

2. Breo
Last month: No. 8
GlaxoSmithKline's respiratory drug
Total estimated spending: $12.1 million (down from $9.4 million in Feb.)
# of spots: 1 - Missing Piece

3. Eliquis
Last month: No. 4
Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb anticoagulant
Total estimated spending: $11.7 million (down from $13.9 million in Feb.)
# of spots: 4
Ad with the biggest spend: DVT and PE Blood Clots
Estimated spend on that ad: $6.5 million

4. Xeljanz
Last month: Not on list (but was No. 5 in Jan. with $12.9 million spent)
Pfizer's rheumatoid arthritis drug
Total estimated spending: $10.9 million
# of spots: 1 - Made For Better Things

5. Tamiflu
Last month: No. 5
Roche's flu treatment
Total estimated spending: $10.3 million (down from $12.1 million in Jan.)
# of spots: 2
Ad with the biggest spend: A Big Solution
Estimated spend on that ad: $6.8 million

6. Victoza
Last month: Not on list (but was No. 7 in Jan. with $10.6 million spent)
Novo Nordisk GLP-1 treatment
Total estimated spending: $10.3 million
# of spots: 5
Ad with the biggest spend: Melody
Estimated spend on that ad: $6.0 million

7. Cialis
Last month: No. 10
Eli Lilly erectile dysfunction drug
Total estimated spending: $9.7 million (up from $8.8 million in Feb.)
# of spots: 2
Ad with the biggest spend: Why Pause?
Estimated spend on that ad: $7.9 million

8. Prevnar 13
Last month: Not on list (but was No. 2 in Dec. with $14.4 million spent)
Pfizer pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine
Total estimated spending: $9.5 million
# of spots: 1 - One Step

9. Lyrica
Last month: No. 9
Pfizer seizure and pain drug
Total estimated spending: $9.3 million (down from $9.2 million in Jan.)
# of spots: 8
Ad with the biggest spend: The First
Estimated spend on that ad: $1,943,450

10.Rexulti
Last month: Not on list
Otsuka and Lundbeck's anti-psychotic
Total estimated spending: $ 8.97 million
# of spots: 1 - Smiley Face

Special Report: The top 10 most-advertised prescription drug brands

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