US pharmaceutical giants - in common with other industries - are shifting their advertising focus to online marketing, more closely targeted at specific consumers.

According to research firm eMarketer the pharma sector will up online adspend by around 25% this year to $780 million (€608m; £414m) and by 2008, it predicts, this figure will rise to $1.3 billion.

More than 31 million US patients now turn to the web for health information.

Comments eMarketer senior analyst Lisa Phillips: "Marketers are focusing more on providing information and a place for communities to gather on websites geared to specific conditions and questions about treatment."

Website is aggressively building its health information resources. Last month, it drew more than 32.7m unique visitors - about five million of whom visited its health and fitness section.

Says ceo Scott Meyer: "There's a very fast-growing market on the advertising side. Health is not the only vertical we want to build out, but it's the biggest opportunity for ad revenue."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff