Pfizer's DTC ad spending dwarfs rivals

Last week, Advertising Age celebrated a big direct-to-consumer ad campaign that's in the works for Purdue Pharma's new sleep drug. The planned spending: $100 million. It's among the few recent drug launches with significant DTC support, Ad Age pointed out. And some numbers from Pharma Marketing Blog illustrate just how unusual that sort of spending is these days.

Overall, DTC spending has dropped in four of the last 5 years. If you look at the most heavily advertised brands last year--Pharma Marketing has the top 20--you'll see that the only recently minted drugs on the list are Boehringer Ingelheim's clot-prevention drug Pradaxa (approved by the FDA in October 2010) and Vimovo, the arthritis combo pill approved in April 2010.

In fact, the brand with the biggest DTC spending is Pfizer's ($PFE) Lipitor, with $220 million, and it went off patent late last year. Cymbalta comes in second with more than $150 million; it's due for generic rivals next year. Among the other aging brands in the top 10: Pfizer's Viagra, Celebrex, Lyrica and Enbrel (co-marketed with Amgen ($AMGN)); and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Abilify.

Which brings us to another point: Pfizer's DTC spending far outranked every other drugmaker's last year, as Pharma Marketing notes. Second place was Eli Lilly ($LLY), with about half of Pfizer's $800 million-plus budget. AstraZeneca ($AZN), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), and Boehringer round out the top 5. For the rest, check out the blog post.

- read the Pharma Marketing piece