New Biktarvy spot puts Gilead in top TV-spending ranks, right behind AbbVie and Pfizer

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Big-ticket pharma TV ads for the month of April included spots from Latuda, Eliquis and Taltz. (3dman_eu)

April was an impressive show of pharma TV ad strength even for long-standing top spender Humira. The AbbVie immunology med and megablockbuster topped the list in a big way this month with more than $45 million in national TV buys, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv.

That’s up from $31.5 million in March, an increase of 45%. Pfizer's Xeljanz remained in second place for the third month in a row with $25.8 million in spending, and Gilead Sciences joined in the top 3 with $18.2 million.

But back to Humira, which is suffering under biosimilar assault in Europe. Executives warned in January that sales losses outside the U.S. could amount to $2 billion this year. And as analysts rework their forecast to account for the earlier-than-expected decline, AbbVie's going all out with its promotions in the U.S., where the med won't face biosimilars till 2023. Humira's global sales topped $20 billion last year, with $13.6 billion of that revenue coming from the U.S.

Meanwhile, Gilead is working to counter big losses in hepatitis C with new HIV pills, and one of its recent launches has hit the airwaves in a big way. Brand-new to the list this month is Gilead’s Biktarvy on the strength of its first big TV push after its February 2018 approval. The three-drug combo pill has already hit blockbuster status, racking up $1.18 billion in its first not-quite-full year of sales.

Meanwhile, Sunovion’s Latuda, Pfizer and Bristol Myers-Squibb’s Eliquis and Eli Lilly’s Taltz all rejoined the list in April. Overall, pharma TV ad spending among the top 10 stayed about the same month over month with a total of $168 million spent, down just slightly from $169 million in March.

1. Humira
Movement: Stayed same
What is it? AbbVie anti-inflammatory drug
Total estimated spending: $45.7 million (up from $$31.5 million in March)
Number of spots: 12 (Six for arthritis, four for ulcerative colitis/Crohn's disease, two for psoriasis)
Biggest-ticket ad: “Not Always Where I Needed to Be (est. $10.3 million)


2. Xeljanz
Movement: Stayed same
What is it? Pfizer oral rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis med
Total estimated spending: $25.8 million (down from $26.2 million in March)
Number of spots: Six
Biggest-ticket ad: “A Different Direction” (est. $12.6 million)



3. Biktarvy
Movement: Not on list last month
What is it? Gilead Sciences HIV 3-in-1 combo med
Total estimated spending: $18.2 million
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Keep Being You”



4. Emgality
Movement: Stayed same
What is it? Eli Lilly anti-CGRP migraine treatment
Total estimated spending: $15.1 million (down from $16.7 million in March)
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Pirates”



5. Latuda
Movement: Not on list last month
What is it? Sunovion Pharmaceutical antipsychotic
Total estimated spending: $12.9 million
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Lauren’s Story”



6. Eliquis
Movement: Not on list last month
What is it? Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb next-generation anticoagulant
Total estimated spending: $11.3 million
Number of spots: Three
Biggest-ticket ad: “Around the Corner” (est. $5.2 million)



7. Trulicity
Movement: Moved down from No. 6
What is it? Eli Lilly GLP-1 diabetes drug
Total estimated spending: $10.7 million (down from $13.5 million in March)
Number of spots: Six
Biggest-ticket ad: “I Can Do More: Wedding Planner” (est. $9.7 million)



8. Taltz
Movement: Not on list last month
What is it? Eli Lilly next-generation psoriasis treatment
Total estimated spending: $10.6 million
Number of spots: Four
Biggest-ticket ad: “Moving” (est. $3.8 million)



9. Ozempic
Movement: Moved up from No. 10
What is it? Novo Nordisk GLP-1 diabetes med
Total estimated spending: $9.1 million (down from $10.3 million in March)
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Arcade: Oh, Oh, Oh, Ozempic”



10. Otezla
Movement: Moved down from No. 9
What is it? Celgene's oral treatment for plaque psoriasis
Total estimated spending: $12.4 million (down from $9.5 million in March)
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Summer Days”

(Ad not available on iSpot at the request of Celgene.)