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By Published on .

The jury may still be out on just how effective direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising is, but probably not at Schering-Plough.

Figures to be released today from researcher IMS Health show Schering-Plough Corp. spent more than $203 million on DTC ads for its anti-allergy Claritin brand during the 12-month period ended in March.

That marks a 222% spending increase over the previous 12-month block and the first time DTC spending on a particular drug has reached the $200 million mark during a 12-month time frame, according to IMS.

IMS will release the figures and other information on DTC advertising and drug sales trends at a news conference in New York.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Claritin holds a significant lead in the anti-allergy market; it had $1.1 billion in sales in 1998, according to IMS. Pfizer's Zyrtec was No. 2 with $355 million in sales last year, while Hoechst Marion Roussel's Allegra was third with $324 million.


"Overall we're seeing a lot of increased DTC spending by companies [that] are beginning to see the value of DTC spending," said Marty Glogowski, VP-marketing for IMS.

U.S. pharmaceutical DTC spending rose 21% in 1998 to $1.3 billion, according to IMS; Michael Russell, a Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. analyst, has projected '99 spending on DTC ads will hit $1.7 billion.

The Big 3 allergy drugs were three of the top five DTC-advertised products during the 12 months ended in March, according to the new IMS figures. Claritin is No. 1; Merck & Co.'s Propecia, an anti-hair loss drug, is No. 2 with $125 million in spending; Zyrtec is No. 3 with $81 million; Glaxo Wellcome's smoking cessation drug, Zyban, is fourth with $71 million; and Allegra is fifth with $63

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