Direct-to-consumer (DTC) TV advertising remains popular in the US pharma world. While digital media, such as short video formats on social media platforms, is being adopted by many segments and industries, pharma advertising remains more traditional, with print and TV advertising continuing to be favored by pharma companies.
In most cases, commercials are regulated to ensure they provide accurate information, include the benefits and risks of the drugs and encourage viewers to talk to their healthcare providers about the medication.
The US is among the few places in the world where DTC ads for health and medical products are legal; it is banned in most countries.
In the first half of 2023, pharmaceutical drugs accounted for half of the most viewed new brands by TV ad impressions, according to an iSpot.tv report. The report included a roundup of the top ten TV ad debuts this year, with pharma drugs clinching the top three spots.
Bayer’s new over-the-counter (OTC) cold, flu and allergy med Astepro not only emerged as the most viewed new pharma TV ad in the first half of the year, but also topped iSpot.tv’s list of all new brand ads with 7.4 billion TV ad impressions during the first six months of the year. Outside of pharma, the list included new ads from Revlon and mobile games Dream.
Here is a look at the top new prescription drug commercials on TV in 2023 by impression/views in the first six months of the year.
Treatment for: Cold, flu, allergies
Number of ad impressions: 7.4 billion
Highlights: Astepro’s (azelastine HCL) “When Love Calls” ad made its debut in April this year. Most of the ad’s impressions came from NBC, particularly during a marketing push at the beginning of allergy season. The ad vouches that Astepro provides allergy relief within 30 minutes. Astepro is available both OTC and by prescription, with the OTC nasal antihistamine version (0.15%) having been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2021. The 0.15% strength dose is approved for both OTC and prescription use while the 0.1% strength is available by prescription only for seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis. The dose needed depends on the reason for use and age among other factors.
Treatment for: Crohn’s disease
Number of ad impressions: 6 billion
Highlights: Skyrizi (risankizumab-rzaa) was mainly advertised on NBC’s nightly and morning news programs. The ad, “Roller Coaster,” features a musical jingle that talks about gaining control over the management of Crohn’s. The immunology drug is also approved for psoriatic arthritis, the ad for which made it into the top ten new TV ad list this year as well.
Maker: Bristol Myers Squibb
Treatment for: Moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis
Number of ad impressions: 4.34 billion
Highlights: A DTC campaign for Sotyktu (deucravacitinib) was launched during the Grammy Awards towards the end of January, with most of the impressions coming from ABC. The TV ad is called “She Found It” and features two individuals who successfully achieved clear skin and became confident again thanks to Sotyktu.
Maker: Eli Lilly
Treatment for: Type 2 diabetes
Number of ad impressions: 3.05 billion
Highlights: Eli Lilly debuted the first TV ad for Mounjaro (tirzepatide) this year after the drug, already a blockbuster in the diabetes and weight loss world, received FDA approval in May 2022. The ad, called “What If: Different,” highlights Mounjaro as a new approach to diabetes treatment as a GLP-1 agonist that is taken once weekly. The drug took off quickly after its approval given the growing popularity of GLP-1 agonists like rival Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic for the treatment of diabetes and off-label use for weight loss.
Treatment for: Psoriatic arthritis
Number of ad impressions: 2.96 billion
Highlights: Skyrizi found itself on the list twice, this time for psoriatic arthritis. Its ad “Getting Into My Groove” focuses on how it can reduce inflammation leading to less joint pain and clear skin, helping people get back into their “groove” and enjoy activities and day-to-day living. The ad got most of its impressions on NBC.