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Drug Companies' Health Education Campaigns No Longer Speak Spanish

hola.jpgFor the first time in at least three years, drug companies have spent zero dollars on Spanish-language television for their unbranded health education ads, Nielsen-Monitor Plus reports.

The wholescale write-off of Hispanic TV draws attention to how little Spanish-language provision there is in drug marketing. Of the web sites for the top 10 best selling drugs ranked by IMS Health, only three had Spanish versions.

Pharmaceutical companies usually spend between $4 million and $5 million on unbranded campaigns placed on Spanish network and cable TV. That's not a great deal of money, but remember that a dollar in Hispanic media goes a lot further than in its mainstream counterpart. In the first half of this year, however, that spend dropped to nada for the first time since at least 2004. (I don't have numbers that go back further than that.)

The pullback is almost certainly part of the overall drawdown of spending on unbranded campaigns. Those campaigns, in which consumers are educated about certain disease states and then urged to visit their doctor, a web site, or call a phone line, have had their budgets more than halved in the last two years. Companies are still buying branded ads for their pills on Spanish TV, just not the unbranded kind. (Side note: The WSJ a couple of weeks ago said unbranded advertising was "having a revival" and "gaining popularity" amongst drugmakers. Wrong!)

So I decided to see if drugmakers made up for their English-only skills on the web. Not much. Here's a breakdown of the top 10 best-selling drugs, and whether those sites are available in Spanish or not. Brownie points go to Amgen and Wyeth whose Enbrel page shows a photo of an actual Hispanic person; and to AstraZeneca for Nexium, "el pildora morada!" (The purple pill.)

  • Company Brand Web Page in Spanish?
  • Pfizer - Lipitor - No
  • Nexium - AZ - Yes
  • Advair - GSK - No
  • Plavix - Sanofi/BMS - No
  • Seroquel - AZ - No
  • Forest Labs - Lexapro - Yes
  • Singulair - Merck - No
  • Enbrel - Amgen/Wyeth - Yes
  • Prevacid - TAP - No
  • Aranesp - Amgen - No
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