Donate |

Consumer Reports AdWatch

Last updated: April 2012

Consumers are besieged daily by ads for prescription drugs, all beseeching you to "ask your doctor" for a given brand-name drug for an ailment that you might, or might not, actually have. Those ads don't always tell the whole story. They might, for example, play down or omit information about nondrug options, or imply that a drug works wonders for everyone when in reality it works only marginally better than a placebo. That's why we started the Consumer Reports AdWatch series. Our video commentaries on a sampling of direct-to-consumer drug ads are designed to give you the facts that the commercials leave out, so that you can be better informed when making health decisions. We hope that they're fun, too:

Direct to consumer (DTC) drug advertising is big business for a good reason--it works. In 2007 alone, drug companies spent $5,375,117,382 on advertising. Yes, that's $5.375 billion dollars. The chart below highlights 25 of the biggest spenders along with their sales, giving an indication of how much their ad spending has paid off (or not, in the case of Rozerem):

Drug Approved for DTC advertising 2008 Retail sales 2008 Sales per DTC ad dollar spent
Advair diskus Asthma $172,974,000 $3,572,473,000 $20.65
Plavix Heart attack/stroke risk reduction $169,780,000 $3,796,221,000 $22.36
Cymbalta Depression, anxiety, diabetic neuropathy $156,733,000 $2,170,162,000 $13.85
Ambien CR Insomnia $154,602,000 $865,719,000 $5.60
Abilify Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression $152,440,000 $2,371,795,000 $15.56
Cialis Erectile dysfunction $141,834,000 $555,080,000 $3.91
Lyrica Fibromyalgia, seizures $141,369,000 $1,389,205,000 $9.83
Viagra Erectile dysfunction $122,487,000 $920,051,000 $7.51
Flomax Enlarged prostate $115,581,000 $1,236,963,000 $10.70
Lunesta Insomnia $108,874,000 $771,019,000 $7.08
Crestor High cholesterol $106,904,000 $1,676,553,000 $15.68
Symbicort Asthma $99,336,000 $237,955,000 $2.40
Lipitor High cholesterol $98,357,000 $5,880,128,000 $59.78
Valtrex Shingles and cold sores $91,984,000 $1,684,192,000 $18.31
Nasonex Seasonal allergies $91,787,000 $904,074,000 $9.85
Evista Osteoporosis $90,082,000 $499,924,000 $5.55
Boniva Osteoporosis $84,444,000 $512,179,000 $6.07
Chantix1 Smoking cessation $83,967,000 $605,323,000 $7.21
Reclast Osteoporosis $80,503,000 4,966,000 $0.06
Spiriva Asthma $75,750,000 $1,142,746,000 $15.09
Caduet High blood pressure and cholesterol $73,154,000 389,966,000 $5.33
Januvia Type 2 diabetes $71,163,000 $913,501,000 $12.84
Singulair Asthma and seasonal allergies $70,866,000 $2,898,060,000 $40.89
Enbrel Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis $70,480,000 $763,927,000 $10.84
Avodart Enlarged prostate $69,762,000 $364,706,000 $5.23

1. Ads were for MyTimeToQuit.com, a Pfizer Web site that invites visitors to learn about a prescription treatment option for quitting smoking. Those who click this link are then directed to the Web site for Chantix, Pfizer’s smoking-cessation drug.

   

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters!
Choose from safety, health, cars, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

SPECIAL REPORT: PHONE THEFT
5 steps to protect your smart phone from theft or loss Also learn what to do when your phone goes missing and when you get it back.
Mustang
SPORTS CAR REVIEWS
50-year flashback: 1965 Ford Mustang started a legacy Will the 2015 pony car be as memorable as the original Mustang?
VACUUM REVIEWS
5 ways to unclutter and clean up your home If you've procrastinated this spring, try these organizing and cleaning tips.
SMART PHONE REVIEWS
Get the best deal on the new Samsung Galaxy S 5 The lowest up-front price could cost you more in the long run.
WASHING MACHINE REVIEWS
Best appliances: Top-rated washer-and-dryer pairs These laundry duos cleaned up in our latest lab tests.
SUV REVIEWS
On the road: 10 best vehicles for family vacations When you're traveling with a crowd, comfort is key for an enjoyable trip.

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars New Car Price Report
Find out what the dealers don't want you to know! Get dealer pricing information on a new car with the New Car Price Report.

Order Your Report

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more