Worldwide spending in 2010 on sales force and other marketing channels edged up 1.5% over the previous year to just over $91 billion, but growth is due to activities in China, Japan and Latin America, as firms made major cuts in the west.

That is the conclusion of a report from market researchers at Cegedim Strategic Data which audits pharmaceuticals marketing expenditure in over 30 countries. It notes that spending on meetings and other events saw an increase of just over 5% worldwide to $13 billion and the use of events was up significantly in Japan (+14%), China (+19%) and Latin America (+18%). However, spending was down in the USA by 17% and Europe saw a decline of 7%.

In 2010, global spending on sales force promotion increased 2.2% to $56.1 billion but cuts in US sales force levels were significant - several major companies reduced their numbers of reps by over 10%. European sales force levels saw significant reductions as well, while in China, Latin America, and Japan many of the leading companies "added reps for double-digit growth", the analysis points out.

Global marketing expenditure among the leading ten companies was nearly flat in 2010 but accounted for over 41% of total marketing investment - the same ratio as 2009. Three of the ten leading companies are American while five are European - two Japanese multinationals complete the top 10.

Christopher Wooden, vice president for the CSD global promotion audit, noted that "in emerging markets, the industry has quickly adopted the use of meetings and events as an efficient way to achieve high quality interaction with a maximum number of healthcare professionals". This stategy "augments one-to-one rep detailing as companies face the challenge of rapid growth and training demands".

He went on to say that "there appears to be a broad trend in seeking scale efficiencies in the major western markets as nine of the top 10 companies in the USA and Europe cut back on sales force levels". Among mature markets, Japan was a major exception with increased spending through 2010 despite flat reported sales.

Mr Wooden added that "with patent expiry, limited R&D pipelines and accompanying industry consolidation, sales force and marketing in the mature western markets will likely be streamlined over the next few years. The future is clearly seen in Asia and Latin America".