- Pharma spending on magazine ads increased by nearly 20% to $1.53 billion in 2015, up from $1.29 billion in 2014, according to data from Nielsen cited by FiercePharma.
- Prescription drug advertising beat out all other industries in total magazine ad spend, including major consumer categories.
- Magazines represent a large segment of the advertising market for pharma companies, accounting for about 30% of all ad spending, Fierce reports.
The heavy reliance on magazine spending for pharma is due not only to its effectiveness but also because of the need to meet specific and strict regulations.
Magazines are portable, accessible to consumers across demographics and amenable to all of the long-form safety and prescribing information which must be included with each ad.
The focus on print can also be tied to the FDA's guidelines around DTC advertising on television, which was first allowed in 1997. According to the agency's rules, television ads had to direct patients to comprehensive safety information for the drug being advertised. The options were referring viewers to a telephone number, a website, or print ads. Many companies opted for print ads and gained the advantage of being able to reinforce messaging while complying with regulations.
In November 2015, the American Medical Association (AMA) backed a ban on all pharma DTC advertising, citing the fact that the US is the one of the few developed countries which allows DTC drug ads. The organization expressed concerns DTC ads were driving up the cost of healthcare by encouraging patients to request more expensive drugs.
The proposed ban was largely seen as symbolic, since such a restriction would require Congressional authorization. Meanwhile, if spending growth like this past year continues, pharma magazine ad spending will soon be flirting with $2 billion annually.