NEW YORK: US pharmaceutical giants are set to post a sizeable hike in marketing spend for 2006 - around 9% more than last year, according to latest estimates by TNS Media Intelligence.

Total spend on all prescription drug advertising is expected to top $4.5 billion (€3.4bn; £2.29bn) by the end of this year, compared with around $4.1bn in 2005.

The biggest spender is likely to be Sepracor's insomnia drug Lunesta, which notched $220 million on ads through September, a 78% rise over the same period in 2005. Rival data provider Nielsen Monitor-Plus's figures for the same product show a $290m adspend from January through October.

This aggressive marketing pushed competitor Sanofi Aventis to spend $135m on its insomnia brand, Ambien CR.

Pfizer, which had stopped advertising Viagra in late 2004 and early 2005 after Food and Drug Administration complaints about the content of its marketing, increased its spend by 15% to $65m in the period through to September.

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff