Drug industry spends at least $20.5 billion a year on…

…research and development?

You must be joking, it’s on marketing – and this is just in the USA!

Of course the way some drug trials are rigged and the data ‘interpreted’ then many would argue that these costs should be included in the marketing spend as well.

This from the Wall Street Journal:

Despite all the job cuts for drug reps, despite the endless stream of TV drug ads, the pharma industry still spends most of its U.S. marketing money the old-fashioned way: Paying salespeople to call on doctors and other health-care providers.

Drug companies spent “at least $20.5 billion in marketing” in 2008, the  CBO said in a research brief published yesterday. (That figure doesn’t include the value of free drug samples companies give to docs, by the way.) The big categories include:

$12 billion for “detailing,” the industry term for sending sales reps to talk to doctors, nurses and other providers. Spending on detailing was highest for statins (such as Pfizer’s Lipitor), antidepressants (like Forest’s Lexapro) and antipsychotics (like Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abilify). In each of those categories, branded drugs are competing against generics for a big market.

$4.7 billion direct-to-consumer advertising, and an additional $400 million on advertising in professional journals. CBO took a closer look at consumer advertising for about 2,000 drugs and found that TV ads accounted for 62% of spending, print ads made up 35% and online ads were 4% (those figures add up to 101% because we rounded to the nearest percentage point).

$3.4 billion sponsoring professional meetings and events. This includes sponsoring courses and talks that doctors can attend (or watch online) in order to satisfy requirements for continuing medical education (known as CME). Industry-funding of CME has been getting some attention in Congress lately, with some lawmakers calling for public disclosure of who pays for what.


One Response to “Drug industry spends at least $20.5 billion a year on…”

  1. Lynn Says:

    The feeling of being railroaded into accepting a psychiatric drug is really something else. In retrospect, I think that I have been the victim of this doctor “education”. How can doctors ethically do this? Do they even know how much they are hurting people? I asked a doctor for an allergy pill, Atarax, for allergies and anxiety, and she pushed Allegra, Xanax and Zoloft on me. She actually said that Zoloft was an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety drug at the same time. I’m lucky I didn’t take the Zoloft. I did not know anything about Xanax. I trusted her. Who knows what worse things could have happened than what did? Patients should be able to trust that their doctors actually know what they are doing, and that they will not deliberately or carelessly hurt patients. I can’t trust any doctor saying anything about psych drugs anymore. I can’t risk trusting doctors in that regard.

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