english.prescrire.org > Spotlight > Archives : 2009 > Pharmaceutical companies’ marketing budgets: bigger than estimated

Spotlight: Archives

Every month, the subjects in Prescrire’s Spotlight.

2009 : 1 | 30 | 60 | 90

Pharmaceutical companies’ marketing budgets: bigger than estimated

The already hefty official figures for the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing expenditures are certainly underestimated. The end cost is borne by patients and by the health insurance system.

What is the real cost of pharmaceutical companies’ marketing expenditures? The huge sums generally bandied about still seem to be underestimated. In 2004, according to a firm specialising in pharmaceutical market intelligence, pharmaceutical companies are alleged to have spent nearly 28 billion dollars on promoting their drugs in the USA alone. According to the European Commission, during the period 2000-2007, pharmaceutical companies devoted 23% of their revenues to marketing, compared with 17% devoted to research. Between 1999 and 2005 in France, promotional spending increased by 48% in constant euros.

In 2008, two Canadian researchers cast some doubt upon the evels of marketing expenditures reported by pharmaceutical companies. They used several different sources to try and clarify the figures. And they found the total amounted to 48 billion rather than the 28 billion usually cited as the figure for the United States. This huge difference can largely be explained by the inclusion of estimated spending based on surveys carried out among practitioners, and spending associated with congresses, e-marketing and post-marketing studies. In France, in 2007, the Social affairs inspectorate (Inspection générale des affaires sociales – IGAS) has also pointed out the underestimation of promotional spending.

Given the dearth of innovation and the increased competition, it is hardly surprising that pharmaceutical companies are increasing their promotional budgets. But it is patients and the health insurance system who end up footing the bill.

©Prescrire July 2009

Source: "Dépenses marketing des firmes : encore plus" Rev Prescrire 2009; 29 (308): 457.

- More articles in Prescrire's "Spotlight"...