9Wants to Know investigators found that eight major pharmaceutical companies spent a combined total of more than $1.86 billion on television advertising for prescription drugs last year.
The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow drug companies to promote their drugs and encourage patients to ask their doctors about specific prescriptions on television, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Drug companies take advantage of those rules.
Pfizer, one of the largest drug manufacturers, increased their spending from $536 million in 2013 to nearly $758 million in 2015, according to data provided by Kantar Media.
Drug makers Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly and Sanofi spent more than $600 million combined on advertisements in 2015. While each of the companies make a variety of drugs, they are currently the only insulin manufacturers in the United States.
The average price of insulin has doubled across all three companies since 2012, according to the National Average Drug Acquisition Costs database.
Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen increased spending on drug ads every year since 2013 – and spend more than $30 million last year on ads.
Even Teva Pharmaceuticals, the largest manufacturer of generic drugs in the U.S., spent more than $7 million last year, according to Kantar Media’s data.
That’s why TEGNA Investigations created parody products like “Ridicufy” and “The Wallet Lifter,” to bring attention to the massive amounts of money drug companies spend to promote pharmaceuticals – while prices just keep rising.