Drug marketing by the numbers

  pills more meds please

  • Volume of annual pharmaceutical drug sales worldwide: $733 billion
  • What drug companies spend annually on full page ads in medical journals: $500 million
  • Amount drug industry spent on marketing directly to doctors last year: $7 billion
  • Amount drug industry spent on Direct To Consumer “Ask Your Doctor” ads: $5 billion
  • Hours spent watching TV drug ads last year per person, on average: 30
  • Number of patients who request drugs by name from their doctors each year: 16 million
  • Drug industry’s research and development budget compared with marketing budget: 1/3 to 1/2
  • Ratio of drug reps to doctors in North America: 1 to 2.5
  • Median annual total cash compensation for a drug rep (2008): $96,700
  • Favourable change in a doctor’s prescribing habits after less than 1 minute with a sales rep:  ↑16%
  • Prescribing change seen after 3 minutes with a sales rep:  ↑52%
  • Number of presentations last year where North American doctors paid by drug companies pitched that company’s drug to peers:  237,000
  • Forest Labs’ average payment per speech to 2,000 doctors lecturing about Lexapro: $17,350
  • Biggest legal penalty in U.S. history against Pfizer for unethical drug promotion: $2.38 billion
  • Merck’s advertising budget to launch sales of its painkiller Vioxx: $300 million
  • Annual sales of Vioxx from 1999 to 2004: $2.5 billion
  • Number of deaths due to heart attack or stroke caused by Vioxx before Merck’s recall:  60,000+
  • Number of years that Merck knew about the deadly risks of Vioxx before pulling the drug, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine, 11/23/09:   four

Find out more about drugs you’re taking from the independent Therapeutics Initiative at the University of British Columbia.

5 thoughts on “Drug marketing by the numbers

  1. Staggering! Even if these numbers were off – like so many of those put out by drug companies, complete with bias, shoddy research and such – they’d still shock and speak volumes.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if a fraction of those billions spent on marketing drugs actually went toward researching cures?

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  2. Scary and amazing – to see the list like this is truly staggering. How on earth did regulators who are supposed to be watching out for public health allow this to happen?

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  3. Pingback: Chemist Track

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