Pharma crops DTC spending by 8%

We all know that pharma has been cutting back its consumer advertising--and here's how. Drugmakers slashed ad spending by 8 percent last year to $4.4 billion from a peak of $4.8 billion in 2007. It's the first time pharma has backed away from DTC in at least a decade. (And yes, you can practically hear TV networks and magazine publishers weeping.)

Of course, $4.4 billion is still way, way more than drugmakers were spending on consumer ads 10 years back. IMS Health says pharma ads ran to less than $1 billion in 1997.

Marketing types say spending fell because fewer new meds hit the market during 2008, and because regulators--and politicians--had trained their eagle eyes on drug marketing, the Wall Street Journal reports. Case in point: the Merck/Schering-Plough drug Vytorin, which came under Congressional scrutiny after a long-delayed (and less than flattering) clinical trial came to light. M/S-P slashed Vytorin ad spending to $47 million from $114 million.

Print advertising fell the most--by 18 percent--while TV ad spending dropped by 4 percent. And pharma's 8 percent ad cutback outpaced the overall decline in ad spending, which amounted to 2.6 percent.

- read the WSJ story