Marketing of Pharmaceutical products declined in the last decade

Pharmaceutical marketing declinedResearchers have found a decline in the pharmaceutical advertising to physicians and consumers, which is still present in some aspects of marketing.

PLoS ONE published this research.

Researchers, in this study, analyzed annual data from 2001 to 2010 for the cost on promotional activities by the pharmaceutical industries. They reported that the advertising reached to its peak about nine years ago in 2004 while the industry promotion to physicians decrease by nearly 25% by 2010 to .7 billion or 9% of sales. Researchers found almost similar results in case of advertising to the consumers directly.

In 2004, companies promoted about 3,000 products – peak level – to the providers while the promotion of the products decline by about 20% by 2010.

“There has been growing concern about the conflicts of interest introduced by physicians’ relationships with pharmaceutical companies, but the data show that physician detailing and the distribution of free samples is still the dominant form of drug promotion.” Lead author Rachel Kornfield said in a statement.

In 2005, 84% of marketing expenditures went toward physician detailing and free samples while in 2010, free samples and explanation to physicians cost about 70% of the marketing expenditures while the remaining cost went to consumer advertising and physician marketing through journal ads, e-promotion and sponsored conferences and meetings.

“There have been important changes in the pharmaceutical marketplace during the past decade, including changes in the types of therapies being brought to market as well as an overall aging of the drugs with FDA approval,” said G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS, senior author of the study and an associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety & Effectiveness. “Since pharmaceutical promotion can influence demand for drugs and affect physician prescribing, it is important to know how drugs are being marketed and promoted.”

One of the reasons for this decline could be the increased spending of the Pharmaceutical Industry on Research and Development (R&D) as it takes nearly $1 billion for a drug to move from clinical trials to the market that takes about 5 to 10 years or more and this process is not so fast.


Kornfield R, Donohue J, Berndt ER, Alexander GC, (2013). Promotion of Prescription Drugs to Consumers and Providers, 2001–2010. PLoS ONE, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055504

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