If you want a microcosmic view of pharma marketing to doctors, take a look at the numbers in Vermont. Over 12 months ended June 30, 2007, drugmakers spent $3.1 million to promote their meds through education and marketing mostly to physicians. That's a hike of nearly $1 million over their spending two years before.
Five companies accounted for more than half of that spending: Eli Lilly spent the most, followed by Pfizer, JCB, Novartis, and Merck. And the lion's share of that $3.1 million went to just 100 doctors, psychiatrists in particular. Eleven psychiatrists together took in more than $625,000 in drug company payments. Cardiologists were second in line with almost $313,000--and that was divided between only two prescribers.
Not surprisingly, the spending was focused mostly on a few drugs. Twenty meds accounted for 62 percent of spending, but were only 7 percent of the number of drugs listed in the disclosures. The top 10 drugs by spending? Here you go:
- Strattera, ADHD, Eli Lilly
- Metadate CD, ADHD, UCB
- Januvia, Type 2 Diabetes, Merck
- Lexapro, Depression, Forest Laboratories
- Cymbalta, Depression, Eli Lilly
- Lantus, Diabetes, Aventis Pharmaceuticals
- Seroquel, Antipsychotic, AstraZeneca
- Namenda, Alzheimer's, Forest Pharmaceuticals
- Vytorin/Zetia, Cholesterol, Merck/Schering-Plough
- Benicar, Hypertension, Daiichi Sankyo
You'll recall that Vermont is one of only two states to require disclosure of drug-company payments to doctors, in this case, gifts of more than $25 in value. PhRMA's new marketing code calls on drugmakers to set internal limits for doctor payments and to set up a system for disclosing them. Meanwhile, in Congress, a sunshine bill is making its way through channels; it would only require disclosure of payments $500 and above, though--and would supersede state disclosure laws like Vermont's.