2. Xeljanz

Pfizer
While Pfizer ad spending on Xeljanz had been reliably strong over the past few years, spending dipped in 2019. (Pfizer)

2. Brand: Xeljanz
Company: Pfizer
What is it: JAK inhibitor
2019 spend: $202.9 million
2018 spend: $247 million

While Pfizer ad spending on Xeljanz had been reliably strong over the past few years, spending dipped in 2019. Still, there was some growth as a new indication for ulcerative colitis (UC) resulted in an additional direction for Xeljanz DTC work last year.

After an FDA nod to also treat UC in late 2018, Pfizer adopted the same not-an-injection theme it uses to advertise Xeljanz for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and launched a DTC campaign around its first-and-only pill approved for UC.

RELATED: Pfizer's Xeljanz jumps into ulcerative colitis fray with best-case FDA approval

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the UC indication once again put the JAK inhibitor Xeljanz in a competitive category with Humira. One-upmanship, or maybe just keeping up with the Joneses, can be a key driver in advertising, e.g., the cola wars ad spending. In this case, Xeljanz spent more than $85 million on one TV commercial alone to get into the UC category last year, according to iSpot.tv data.

Xeljanz is advertised in its two versions: regular Xeljanz and Xeljanz XR, which is an extended-release version of the pill. Both sets of advertising use messaging built around the ease of use of a pill for patients versus an injection or infusion used by most competitors. The “Unjection” RA ads specifically refer to needles—or, rather, the lack of them—in the dosing of Xeljanz.

RELATED: Pfizer's Xeljanz gets convenience boost with new extended-release approval

Sales of Xeljanz rose along with the new indication advertising spend in 2019. Pfizer reported $2.24 billion in global sales, up 29% over 2018, and noted positive uptake across RA, psoriatic arthritis and UC indications. Xeljanz is a market-share leader, Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals President Angela Hwang said on the company's fourth-quarter earnings conference call, “especially in RA where we have more than 15% of the market share of the entire class.”

2. Xeljanz