Big Pharma / THE FACTSNew Internationalist 362,November 2003
Prescription for profit Most profitable industries (ranked by percentage return on revenues, 2001)
Top Dogs • In 2002 each of the Big Pharma top ten had sales over $11.5 billion • Mergers are leading to behemoths with ever-increasing power. In 1995, 25 companies controlled over half the global drugs market; by 2000, just 15 managed to do the same thing.
Carve up • Of the 10 best-selling drugs of 2002, the top two (worth $13.5 billion in sales) were aimed at reducing cholesterol, one tackled high blood pressure, one ulcers, and two were antidepressants.
Friends in high places Big Pharma spends more on lobbying politicians and regulatory bodies than any other industry. • In the US in 2000, the industry spent $92.3 million on 625 lobbyists (more than one for every member of Congress). • The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) have upped the proposed spend for 2004 to $150 million.
To market, to market Big Pharma spends lavishly to push its wares. Between 1997 and 2002, promotion to healthcare professionals in the US doubled to $18.5 billion. Direct-to-consumer advertising added another $3 billion.
In 2001, leading US drug companies spent almost two-and-a-half times more on marketing, advertising and administration than they did on R&D.