Recession Hits US Direct-to-Consumer Pharma Adspend

14 November 2008

NEW YORK: A new study by TNS Media Intelligence shows direct-to-consumer adspend by US pharmaceuticals companies is down for the second year running and unlikely to hit the $5 billion mark by the end of 2008, thereby dashing the hopes of ad-famished media owners.

The deceleration is not solely due to credit and recessionary factors; Big Pharma has sailed sublimely through earlier financial crises. Tighter regulation and the lack of new blockbuster drugs have also contributed to the ad shortfall.

The TNS study, Advertising Investment Trend Report: Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Industry, reveals that in the first eight months of 2008, total measured DTC adspend declined year-on-year by 6.3% to $3.175 billion (€2.528bn; £2.114bn). That figure, projected through to the year end equates to $4.76bn in total, versus $5.26bn in 2007 – a fall of over 9%. 

DTC spending trends over the past decade are ...

    1998 $1.2 billion
    1999 $1.6 billion
    2000 $2.5 billion
    2001 $2.7 billion
    2002 $2.6 billion
    2003 $3.1 billion
    2004 $4.4 billion
    2005 $4.6 billion
    2006 $5.4 billion
    2007 $5.2 billion
    2008 $4.7 billion*
    *Projected by year's end
    Source:PharmaMarketing News and TNS Media Intelligence
Comments svp research at TNSMI, Jon Swallen: "The pharmaceutical category is closely watched within the ad industry for indications of the health and direction of marketing budgets.  When drug-makers sneeze, ad buyers and sellers worry about catching a cold."


Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff