Does Big Pharma Spend More On Advertising Than Research?

By Diana Montgomery. Updated May 2022.

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Pharmaceutical companies are some of the most powerful entities in the world. They make billions of dollars in profits and spend millions on lobbying and advertising. But how much do they actually spend on research?

Critics say that pharmaceutical companies spend more on advertising than they do on research. In fact, they claim that Big Pharma spends more on marketing than it does on developing new drugs. This may be why there are so many expensive and ineffective drugs on the market.

Pharmaceutical companies dispute these claims, arguing that they invest billions of dollars in research and development each year. However, the evidence seems to suggest that they do indeed spend more on marketing than on R&D.

Table of Contents.

How big pharma lost its swagger.

For years, the pharmaceutical industry was seen as a paragon of American innovation and success. But in recent years, that image has taken a beating, as the industry has been hit by a series of scandals and setbacks.

Many blame big pharma’s troubles on its aggressive marketing tactics and its focus on developing blockbuster drugs. Others say that the industry is suffering from a lack of creativity and innovation.

Whatever the reason, big pharma is no longer seen as untouchable. In fact, some are now calling for it to be broken up or regulated more tightly.

How big pharma made a killing from the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that a pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) was inevitable. At the time, there was no vaccine or treatment available for the new virus. In February 2020, when cases of SARS-CoV-2 were first identified in Wuhan City, China, the world prepared for the worst.

The pharmaceutical industry seized on the opportunity to make a killing from the pandemic. Companies such as Gilead Sciences, Johnson & Johnson and Roche rushed to develop and market vaccines and treatments for SARS-CoV-2. These drugs were priced astronomically high, with some single treatments costing over $1,000.

Governments around the world were forced to choose between paying these high prices for life-saving drugs or leaving their citizens to die.

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Does big pharma controls medical schools.

Pharmaceutical companies have a lot of money and they use it to gain influence over medical schools. For example, they may give large donations to the school or fund scholarships. In return, the school may then show more favoritism towards the company’s drugs in its teaching and research.

Additionally, drug reps are often invited to give presentations to medical students about their products. This can create a bias in favor of drugs that may not be as effective as others or worse, have dangerous side effects. It’s no wonder that doctors often prescribe medications based on what their drug reps tell them rather than what scientific studies say.

It is important to note that not all relationships between pharmaceutical companies and universities are this cozy. In fact, many universities receive more money from the National Institutes of Health than they do from drug companies.

However we need to find a way to break the stronghold that big pharma may have on our medical schools.