NEW YORK: US pharma giants appear to have shrugged-off worries over adverse side-effects and accusations of misleading marketing by upping adspend 9% in the first half of this year.

Magazines have been the biggest beneficiaries of the drug companies' $2.46 billion (€1.94bn; £1.31bn) spree both to boost their images and raise disease awareness among patients.

According to latest figures from TNS Media Intelligence, magazines grabbed 34% of total drugs adspend in the first six months, up from 29% in the year-earlier period. Television ads took 59% of the ad budgets, down from 64% a year earlier. Newspapers accounted for a flat 3% of the total spend.

Advocacy groups and certain sections of the medical profession have been lobbying hard for increased regulation of direct-to-consumer advertising since the withdrawal of Merck's painkiller Vioxx nearly two years ago after stroke and coronary fears.

Industry lobby group PhRMA has been trying to head off DTC legislation by drawing up its own guidelines and setting up an advertising accountability unit to deal with complaints from the public [WARC News: 04-Aug-06].

TNS research director Jon Swallen believes the magazine format allows drug companies to improve the balance and accuracy of their ads.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff