|

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 cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

SPACE HEATER REVIEWS
Best space heaters for $100 or lessVideo Check our winners for warming a room or spot heating just one area.
PERSONAL FINANCE NEWS
Apple Pay virtual wallet looks like an also-ran Fewer than 2% of U.S. merchants will be able to accept Apple's mobile wallet.
HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE REVIEWS
Boost the payout from your home insurance claim You'll need to do the right kind of inventory to get full-replacement value.
WASHING MACHINE REVIEWS
Washer-and-dryer pairs that cleaned up in our tests We've found a number of matching duos that are worth a look.
CAR BUYING ADVICE
Buying a new car? Learn how to get the best loan Don't make the mistake of concentrating only on the monthly payment.
HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS & GUIDE
Expert picks: Best holiday gift ideas for kidsVideo Get a jump on holiday shopping with these presents for children.

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