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Medical marketing increased over past 2 decades

January 08, 2019

Bottom Line: The amount of money spent on medical marketing has increased substantially in the United States over the last two decades. An analysis estimates spending on medical marketing of drugs, disease awareness campaigns, health services and laboratory testing increased to $29.9 billion in 2016 from $17.7 billion in 1997. Most of the 2016 spending ($20.3 billion) was on marketing to professionals, while direct-to-consumer advertising grew to $9.6 billion. Regulatory oversight remains limited despite the increase in spending on marketing. This study may underestimate the amount of spending on medical marketing because some data are unavailable. The analysis was done with data and information from various sources, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Authors: Lisa M. Schwartz, M.D., M.S., and Steven Woloshin, M.D., M.S., Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Related Material: The following are also available on the For The Media website.

The Editor's Note, "A Tribute to Lisa M. Schwartz, M.D., M.S.," by Howard Bauchner, M.D., Editor in Chief, JAMA.

The editorial, "Medical Marketing, Trust, and the Patient-Physician Relationship," by Selena E. Ortiz, Ph.D., M.P.H., Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and Meredith B. Rosenthal, Ph.D., Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston.

The editorial, "Medical Marketing in the United States - A Truly Special Communication," by Howard Bauchner, M.D., Editor in Chief, JAMA, and Phil B. Fontanarosa, M.D., M.B.A., Executive Editor, JAMA.

To Learn More: The full study is available on the For The Media website.


Editor's Note: The article includes conflict of interest disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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