Total: $219 million

As the last to the market in the new generation of blood thinners, Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and Pfizer ($PFE) overcompensated with ad spending on their joint-venture drug in 2014. Eliquis' paid media spending topped $219 million, an increase of 89% year over year.

Last year, Eliquis was also approved as a treatment for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, a smaller but important market sector, which may have spurred ad spending at the end of the year. The tight three-way competition likely was another factor in increased spending, as all three sought to stand out from the me-too crowd. Some speculated that Eliquis increased spending to take advantage of litigation woes for Bayer and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Xarelto and Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa, with lawsuits involving bleeding complications mounting against the two. The increase in paid media comes on top of BMS and Pfizer's doling out of $8 million in doctor fees last year for Eliquis, the second-highest for any single drug, while the joint venture also expanded its sales force for the drug.

Like most of the top-spending prescription drugs, the bulk of Eliquis advertising was spent on TV. Eliquis TV commercials bashed on previous generation drug warfarin, instead of taking on the current competition--market leader Xarelto and Pradaxa. Actors in the Eliquis TV ads outline direct comparisons to warfarin, explaining point by point how Eliquis is better.

Still, results have been disappointing for BMS and Pfizer, which expected a blockbuster in Eliquis, but have yet to break the $1 billion barrier. Sales for 2014 were $774 million.

For more:
BMS, Pfizer pull out all the stops to give Eliquis sales a Q2 jolt
BMS, Pfizer's Eliquis gets a NICE boost in rivalry with Pradaxa, Xarelto
Should Eliquis' surge make Xarelto fans very, very afraid? Not really, analyst says


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