Pharma grows online ad spending, despite FDA delays

Healthcare and pharma are set to put online promotions into higher gear. The research firm eMarketer expects spending on online advertising to grow by double digits over the next few years, with total online spending rising to $1.86 billion by 2015, up from $1.03 billion last year. For 2011 alone, healthcare and pharma will boost web spending by 13 percent, to $1.17 billion, the firm said.

As Medical Marketing & Media reports, healthcare and pharma account for 4 percent of the overall $25.8 billion U.S. companies spent online last year. That share is expected to climb to 4.2 percent. The numbers show pharma spending in that category is growing at about the same rate as retail and automotive advertising, but way behind consumer goods, which is set to grow by 29 percent this year to $2.7 billion.

Pharma spending online might be growing even faster if the industry had clearer guidelines for online marketing from the FDA. The agency has delayed introducing new guidance for online promotions and most recently indicated that when they come, the rules are likely to be less comprehensive than the industry had hoped. Plus, drugmaker spending is expected to be depressed somewhat by the loss of patent protection on blockbuster meds that are now heavily advertised.

- Read the MM&M story