Facts and figures that convey the pharmaceutical industry’s actual motivating factors.
It’s no secret that big pharma has a lot of work to do in restoring its image. The pharmaceutical industry is more powerful than it has ever been before. The amount of money swirling around the world of big pharma has reached astronomical heights. With that power and profit, however, has come a constant barrage of scrutiny and dismay.
Implausible drug prices and unethical marketing techniques clearly aren’t the recipe for a successful reputation. The transparency issue has improved somewhat, thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s Open Payment database that was released last year and requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose any payments and gifts given to doctors or hospitals.
It’s been called America’s New Mafia; it’s been blamed for killing thousands of people. In the 2015 Harris corporate reputation poll that measures the quality of an industry’s reputation, the pharmaceutical industry ranked 9th out of 14 industries, with only 37% of public mentions being positive. Keep in mind that we’re talking about an industry that literally saves millions of lives by manufacturing life-saving medications. So why the bad rep? Because saving lives is not their priority – making money is. Just take a look at the numbers:
- Nearly 70% of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, over half of Americans take two prescription drugs, and 20% of Americans are on at least five prescription drugs – Mayo Clinic
- For every $1 pharmaceutical company spend on R&D for a new drug, they spend $19 on advertising that drug – BMJ
- 51% of drugs prescribed to Americans are generics, but they only make up 8% of the country’s total amount spent on drugs. The other 49% are the drugs with exclusive marketing rights, which makes up 92% of the total drug spending – IVN
- The percent markup of the prescription drug Xanax is approximately 570,000%. That means that the consumer cost per 100 tablets is roughly $137.79, while the cost of the active ingredients is $0.024 – LiveStrong
- In 2013, the total amount spent on drugs topped $329.2 billion. That’s roughly $1,000 per person – Last Week Tonight
- In the United States, the cost of prescription drugs rises 12% every year – Weedist
- In 2012, of the 12 new-to-market drugs approved by the FDA, 11 of them were priced above $100,000 per-patient per-year – Alternet
- The worldwide pharmaceutical market revenue in 2013 was $980 billion, almost twice as much as it was only 10 years before ($498 billion in 2003) – Statista
- Over 70 million Americans take mind-altering drugs – WND
- 1 in 4 senior citizens skip doses of their prescribed medications in an attempt to reduce the amount of money they have to spend on drugs – Business2Community
These numbers are quite telling, to say the least. Nobody is saying that big pharma shouldn’t be able to turn a profit, but in an industry as life-altering as pharmaceuticals, there has to be a line that cannot be crossed – and that line is when making money takes precedence over saving lives.