Pharma TV spending jumps in November, with top brands scaling $200M

watching TV
Pharma TV advertising is booming, thanks to media placements by AbbVie, Bristol Myers Squibb, Sanofi and Regeneron and others. (Getty Images)

While digital ad spikes are getting the most attention during the pandemic, pharma companies are still driving big TV advertising gains. In November, the top 10 brands spent $204 million, edging out the previous 2020 high of $200 million in January, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv.

That’s well above typical November spending—last year, the top 10 spent $157 million, and they put up a similar $158 million in 2018.

Eight of the top 10 pharma brands ponied up more than $15 million in national TV media during the month. That includes typical big spenders like AbbVie’s Humira and Regeneron and Sanofi's Dupixent, but also newer regulars such as Bristol Myers Squibb's cancer combo Opdivo and Yervoy, and Novo Nordisk’s Rybelsus.

Since the debut of its top TV spot in September, the Opdivo/Yervoy combination has racked up $80 million in airtime for the commercial, which promises “a chance to live longer” with the first-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

Rybelsus also launched its TV ad in September and has since spent more than $45 million in TV ads, adding a Spanish-language version last month for another $5 million to date, according to iSpot data.

Roche’s multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus rejoined the list in November with airings of its retooled commercial “Dear MS” that adds a message about its Ocrevus Connects patient support and financial assistance program.

The November $204 million follows robust October spending of $187 million and $182 million in September.

1. Humira
Movement: Stayed same
What is it? AbbVie anti-inflammatory drug
Total estimated spending: $40.3 million (up from $37.3 million in October)
Number of spots: Five (three for arthritis/psoriasis, two for ulcerative colitis/Crohn's)
Biggest-ticket ad: “You Inspired Us: May Be Able to Help” (est. $15 million)


2. Opdivo and Yervoy
Movement: Up from No. 3
What is it? Bristol Myers Squibb dual-immunotherapy regimen
Total estimated spending: $27.9 million (up from $22 million in October)
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Combination Immunotherapy”


3. Dupixent
Movement: Up from No. 5
What is it? Regeneron and Sanofi atopic dermatitis and asthma treatment
Total estimated spending: $21.3 million (up from $16.4 million in October)
Number of spots: Four (two for atopic dermatitis, two for asthma)
Biggest-ticket ad: “Du More: Backyards and Rain” (est. $9.4 million)


4. Skyrizi
Movement: Stayed same
What is it? AbbVie next-gen, IL-23 psoriasis treatment
Total estimated spending: $19.6 million (up slightly from $19.3 million in October)
Number of spots: Four
Biggest-ticket ad: “Nothing is Everything” (est. $15 million)


5. Ozempic
Movement: Not on the list last month
What is it? Novo Nordisk GLP-1 diabetes med
Total estimated spending: $18.3 million
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Photographer” (est. $18 million)


6. Rybelsus
Movement: Down from No. 3
What is it? Novo Nordisk oral GLP-1 diabetes med
Total estimated spending: $17.8 million (down from $21.9 million in October)
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Wake Up” (est. $14.5 million)


7. Enbrel
Movement: Up from No. 9
What is it? Amgen TNF inhibitor to treat autoimmune diseases
Total estimated spending: $16.8 million (up from $14.8 million in October)
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Erin & Margo”


8. Latuda
Movement: Down from No. 7
What is it? Sunovion Pharmaceuticals antipsychotic
Total estimated spending: $15.3 million (up from $14.8 million in October)
Number of spots: One
Biggest-ticket ad: “Art”


9. Jardiance
Movement: Down from No. 6
What is it? Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim SGLT2 diabetes treatment
Total estimated spending: $14.2 million (down from $15.4 million in October)
Number of spots: Four
Biggest-ticket ad: “Community Garden” (est. $5.9 million)


10. Ocrevus
Movement: Not on the list last month
What is it? Roche multiple sclerosis drug
Total estimated spending: $12.4 million
Number of spots: Two
Biggest-ticket ad: “Dear MS: Financial Support” (est. $12.3 million)

*Ad not available on iSpot.tv