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Money Spent Worldwide on Direct-to-Doctor Drug Marketing

An estimated $19 billion is spent annually by the world’s pharmaceutical companies promoting their drugs directly to doctors:

  • Each day in the United States, roughly 100,000 pharmaceutical company sales reps (earning, on average, $81,700 per year) visit the nation’s 311,000 office-based physicians. Their numbers have more than doubled in the last decade.
  • In 2006, drugmakers spent $19 billion dollars on recruiting doctors to prescribe their drugs, as opposed to $5 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising.
  • In 2005, drug companies spent $1.12 billion to fund the “continuing medical education” sessions that doctors attend to maintain their license to practice.
  • In 2004, 86% of drug companies’ promotional spending was on physician samples – those “free” packets your doctor gives you to try a medication before you fill a prescription.

The pharmaceutical companies ultimately get back the costs of these “free drugs” when you fill the prescription.