June 19, 2014
April 7, 2024

Pharmaceutical Marketing by the Numbers

How Much Do Pharmaceutical Companies Spend on Marketing?

A survey of pharmaceutical representatives found in 2019, that the sector spent $402.3 billion U.S. dollars on pharmaceutical marketing and advertising. In comparison, another survey revealed that research and development expenditures of the leading biopharmaceutical research companies was $83 billion U.S. dollars for the same time period.

This difference in spending raises many questions about the safety of pharmaceutical products, as it creates the impression that the industry is more invested in pharmaceutical marketing than scientific research.  

Much of the interest in this discrepancy in spending stems from a study originally conducted in 2004. The research demonstrated that the Pharmaceutical industry in the United States spent 24.4% of sales on promotion vs.13.4% for research and development (R&D). The study examined the reports of IMS Health and CAM Group, two international marketing companies that provide the pharmaceutical companies with marketing and sales data. In the report, CAM indicated that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spent $33.5 billion dollars on promoting drugs in 2004, whereas IMS indicated that the industry spent $27.7 billion dollars.

A focus on pharmaceutical marketing without proper research and testing can lead to an influx of dangerous products, and may allow for fraudulent or negligent marketing practices to continue.

What is Pharmaceutical Marketing?

A significant amount of pharmaceutical marketing budget is spent on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements. Statistics show that the pharma sector spent $6.46 billion dollars on DTC advertising. These are the ads typically seen while viewing television, online advertisements, and printed ads.

Besides advertisements directed to potential patients, the vast majority of the budget is actually spent on promoting the drugs to doctors. Pharmaceutical companies use sales representatives who frequently visit doctors and provide them with samples, medical literature, and promotional material.

The maintenance of this relationship with the doctors is often referred to as “detailing.” The sales representatives maintain sales call notes regarding their communications with doctors, which are in turn provided to the pharmaceutical company’s marketing department.

The pharmaceutical industry spends a considerable amount of money on interactions with doctors. In many instances, the nature of such relationships can be questionable, and may involve outright illegal conduct.

One of the most recent examples of the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device industry’s unscrupulous relationship with doctors is the DePuy ASR hip implant litigation. Dr. Thomas Schmalzried and Dr. Thomas Vail not only consulted with DePuy to help develop the defective ASR hip implant system, they also received royalties each time a hip implant was sold. Reports from DePuy demonstrate that from 2009 to 2010, these doctors received payments of more than $3.9 million from DePuy.  

Despite the pharmaceutical industry’s best persuasion tactics, some doctors are refusing to see sales representatives in their offices. Others have gone so far as to chastise the pharmaceutical industry for attempting to buy the goodwill of the medical community.

Why Marketing in the Pharmaceutical Industry is Perceived as Harmful

Marketing in itself is not harmful; every company must engage in it if they want to succeed. However, danger arises when pushing pharmaceutical products into the market that may not have been thoroughly researched and tested. Doing so can create serious health risks and dangers to large portions of the consumer base.

As pharmaceutical products are often distributed in large batches across the country, any type of defect can present serious hazards. Issues commonly associated with pharmaceutical products include:

  • Defective products: Hastily promoting pharmaceutical products without thorough R&D can lead to product defects. These can involve dangers like tainted batches of a particular type of prescription drug, issues with dosing, and unintended side effects.
  • Failure to warn: Hazards can result from a lack of warnings regarding side effects, warning labels that are missing or difficult to read, and other similar issues.
  • False claims: Poorly tested products may lead to misrepresentations or misunderstanding about what a drug is intended to do. This can lead to errors such as how a drug is prescribed, or false representations about a drug’s capabilities.

One of the most troubling issues facing the public today is that of skewed expectations regarding various pharmaceutical products. If manufacturers have misrepresented a product, or purposely withheld important information about a drug, it can be difficult for both doctors and consumers to make informed decisions about a particular drug.

In turn, this can lead to injuries as consumers are exposed to products that have been promoted through pharmaceutical marketing, especially ones that were promoted in a negligent or fraudulent manner.

Pharmaceutical Marketing and Lawsuits

Types of Pharmaceutical Product Injuries

Depending on the pharmaceutical product and the defect(s) involved, a person can experience various types of injuries and unwanted side effects. These can often include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, headache, and feelings of discomfort
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Changes in blood pressure or heart rate
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Birth defects
  • Negative interactions with prescription medications and other substances
  • In many instances, death

Injuries linked to defective pharmaceutical products can be severe and costly for those involved. Legal action is typically needed to provide compensation for the losses caused by such injuries.

Compensation for Pharmaceutical Injuries

A lawsuit can help victims and their families overcome the financial challenges that a pharmaceutical product injury can cause. A damages award can provide monetary compensation for:

  • Medical bills and hospital expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death expenses, if applicable
  • Various other costs not typically covered by insurance

In addition, lawsuits can help raise public awareness of pharmaceutical negligence. Many major lawsuits have helped remove dangerous products from circulation. Legal action can also initiate reform of the safety standards surrounding pharmaceutical marketing and products, which helps to improve the industry overall.

Get in Touch with a Pharmaceutical Lawyer for Assistance

The way pharmaceutical products are marketed can create dangerous situations for patients. If you or a loved one were injured due to a defective product or negligent pharmaceutical marketing, contact Pierce Skrabanek for legal representation.

Our lawyers have decades of experience litigating successfully against major corporations and defending the legal rights of American consumers. Obtaining the best results for our clients is our top priority, and we work tirelessly to hold companies responsible for their actions.

Contact us at (832) 690-7000 to learn more about your legal options. Getting started is the first step toward obtaining justice for your losses.

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