The Hustle

Big pharma, big spenders: Drug companies push pills with social-media ads

Pharma companies’ spending on Facebook mobile ads almost tripled over 2 years.


March 3, 2020

Just when you thought Facebook ads couldn’t get any creepier, Big Pharma is saying, “Hold my Lexapro.”

Pharmaceutical companies are spending huge sums to promote their drugs on social media, according to The Washington Post

One advertising-analytics firm found that the companies’ spending on Facebook mobile ads nearly tripled over 2 years, reaching almost $1B last year. Pfizer and Merck were among the top buyers.

As usual, it’s all about ad targeting

For Facebook, using people’s medical histories to target them with ads is a no-no.

Drug companies often don’t want that information anyway, since having it risks violating privacy laws.

But there are other ways to reach potential patients…

… like using geographic data to advertise in areas with high rates of a certain disease.

Other workarounds: sponsored posts from influencers, or “unbranded” campaigns that raise awareness of a disease without naming a specific drug. 

Now, if only they could figure out what rhymes with Lexapro…

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