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Media hurts as drug ad spending is seen less effective

Staff Report • Oct 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM

This could make media owners sick: Pharmaceutical ad spending they count on to exceed $5 billion a year is losing its potency. According to a report in USA Today, two recent reports say drugmakers cut Rx ad spending in the first six months of this year. TNS Media Intelligence puts the drop at 3.9% to $2.4 billion. Rival ad tracker Nielsen Monitor-Plus calculates the decline at 4.8% to $2.7 billion. The reports follow a well-publicized Harvard Medical School study that found consumer ads had little effect on prescription drug sales. Researchers focused on ads for three drugs: Enbrel (for rheumatoid arthritis), Nasonex (nasal allergies) and Zelnorm (irritable bowel syndrome). Results showed that direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads "probably aren't as effective as widely perceived," says Michael Law, lead author of the study published in the British Medical Journal last month. That bodes ill for the magazines, newspapers and radio and TV outlets for which the ads have been a prescription for profits. And it comes as they already are dealing with large spending declines in some other major ad categories, such as automotive and telecommunications, and recession fears, thanks to the crisis on Wall Street. CLICK HERE for the full report.

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