Big Pharma

Big Pharma is the nickname given to the world’s vast and influential pharmaceutical industry and its trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America or PhRMA. Big Pharma and medical device companies make billions of dollars every year selling drugs and devices — including those that were recalled or involved in fraud or product liability lawsuits. The global revenue for pharmaceuticals was over $1 trillion in 2014. But nowhere else in the world do the drug and medical device industries have as much power and make as much money as in the U.S. In fact, Americans spent an all-time high of $457 billion on prescription drugs in 2015. By 2020, it will be $610 billion. Medical devices are also lucrative. The U.S. makes up about half of the world’s share of the market at about $148 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Meanwhile, drug prices continue to rise. Consulting firm Segal Consulting expects drug prices for Americans under age 65 to rise 11.6 percent in 2017. In contrast, wages are only expected to rise 2.5 percent, leaving many American unable to afford their medications. Big Pharma even contributes heavily to the annual budget of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through application fees (user fees) for its new products. Experts say the industry contributes about two thirds of the FDA’s budget. Five of the top 10 pharma and medical device companies for 2016 are headquartered in the U.S.: Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck, Gilead and AbbVie.

The underside of the industry reveals a history of fraud, bribery, product liability lawsuits and scandals that led to billions in settlements — a known cost of doing business for these companies who are “too big to jail.” Despite criminal charges and fines, the companies continue to do business. The majority of drugs and medical devices have ties to a small group of parent companies. Prescription drugs and devices manufactured by these companies bring in billions in profits. The biggest drug makers may also have subsidiaries that manufacture medical devices. Pharmaceutical companies are typically larger and make more money than companies that focus on medical devices.

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Chronological History of Big Pharma Corruption

 

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