Drug Marketing Poised For Historic Decline

In every recession there’s usually one bright spot for marketers: drugs. As consumers skimp on food, fuel and clothes, the business of health often benefits from “nondiscretionary” spending. Marketing budgets go up because consumers, insurers and government programs pay out even when times are tight.

Not this time round.

Budgets for prescription drugs look to be flat this year, and marketers predict an overall decline through 2011, the first setback the business has ever seen.

Unlike most categories, the decline is unrelated to the economic woes of the rest of the country. Instead, it is caused by an unusual confluence of events washing over the industry in the next few years: