Worldwide investment on sales force and other marketing channels fell 3.4% last year as drugmakers cut back their activities in the traditional strongholds of the USA, Japan and Europe.

The figure decreased to just over $92.00 billion at constant local currency exchange rates compared to 2010, according to a report from market researchers at Cegedim Strategic Data. Spending on sales force activity alone fell by nearly 5% to $55.80 billion mainly due to cuts in the USA and Japan.

The analysis notes that detailing to doctors now represents just over 60% of global marketing investments, while use of meetings and events was down 4% worldwide and 11%in Japan. In China, however, spend on meetings and events jumped by over 40%.

Without naming names, CSD claims that only two among the top ten companies increased worldwide promotional expenditure in 2011. It adds that "indicative of the pull back" across the Atlantic, only three American multinationals ranked among the top ten in terms of global promotional spending levels.

Christopher Wooden, vice president for CSD global promotion audits, noted that increases seen in Japan in 2010 reversed last year as that country along with the USA and major European markets "consolidated marketing expenditure, in the context of fewer product launches and the end of patent protection for major brands". Meanwhile, he added that emerging markets "powered ahead in 2011 with China leading the way followed by Brazil and India".

These countries saw significantly increased investments "across the entire marketing mix", he concluded.