Spending on diabetes, weight loss TV spots climbs as drugmakers wrestle for share

Drugmakers are bringing the fight for dominance of the diabetes and weight loss spaces to the airwaves, with MediaRadar finding six leading brands ramped up TV spending by 46% over the first two months of the year.

MediaRadar analyzed a sampling of ad spend from national TV broadcasts, print publications and online channels to understand who is spending what. The analysis identified six brands that powered spending on diabetes and weight loss ads past $1 billion last year. The drugs were Jardiance, Wegovy, Mounjaro, Ozempic, Farxiga and Rybelsus, several of which featured on iSpot.tv’s list of the top spenders in 2023.

The MediaRadar analysis looked at how spending changed over the first two months of the year. With Novo Nordisk resuming promotion, MediaRadar estimated that spending on Wegovy jumped by 125% in the first two months of 2024. Spending on Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro skyrocketed by an estimated 911%.

Most of the ad dollars are going into television. MediaRadar found five of the top six diabetes and weight loss brands allocated at least 88% of their ad budgets to TV, causing their spending on the medium to climb 46% over the first two months of the year.

Rybelsus, Novo’s oral formulation of the GLP-1 drug semaglutide, is the outlier. Novo spent almost two-thirds of the Rybelsus budget on online video, according to MediaRadar, despite scaling back investment in the medium compared to 2023. MediaRadar tracked an 81% crash in online video spending, driven by an 82% drop for Rybelsus and Ozempic’s near-total exit from the space. 

The drop in spending on Rybelsus and Ozempic online video ads was part of a broader pullback seen by MediaRadar, which found the overall outlay on the products fell 83% and 60%, respectively, over the first two months of the year. The declines were offset by soaring spending on Wegovy and Mounjaro, plus a 5% uptick in the outlay on Jardiance, a perennial big spender. 

MediaRadar also provided a higher-level look at spending in other therapeutic areas. The menopause market saw the biggest shift, with the analysts tracking an almost 500% increase as Astellas dialed up the promotion of Veozah.