Controversial new book asks: Do drug companies make drugs or money?

Posted: July 3, 2015 in Medical Industrial Complex
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No-one can object to the pharmaceutical companies making profits. Surely that’s the aim of all companies – to make profits. But how much is too much? We ask that very question in our new release book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures.

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

Excerpts from Medical Industrial Complex  follow:

Many people are alive today because of prescription drugs, and many more are enjoying a better quality of life because of prescription drugs. Let us be clear and unequivocal about that. And unsubstantiated criticism of the pharmaceutical industry, or any industry for that matter, does no-one any good.

We kept all that front of mind when conducting our research for this book.

Unfortunately, the inescapable fact is that much of the good Big Pharma does is undone by mistakes, dubious business practices, (reported/confirmed cases of) fraud and, quite simply, by greed.

Much has been written about Big Pharma in recent years. One of the most informative books on the industry is The Truth About Drug Companies, by Marcia Angell, M.D., former editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

The book’s blurb reads (abridged):

“Currently Americans spend a staggering $200 billion each year on prescription drugs. As Dr. Angell powerfully demonstrates, claims that high drug prices are necessary to fund research and development are unfounded: The truth is that drug companies funnel the bulk of their resources into the marketing of products of dubious benefit. Meanwhile, as profits soar, the companies brazenly use their wealth and power to push their agenda through Congress, the FDA, and academic medical centers.

“Zeroing in on hugely successful drugs like AZT (the first drug to treat HIV/AIDS), Taxol (the best-selling cancer drug in history), and the blockbuster allergy drug Claritin, Dr. Angell demonstrates exactly how new products are brought to market. Drug companies, she shows, routinely rely on publicly funded institutions for their basic research; they rig clinical trials to make their products look better than they are; and they use their legions of lawyers to stretch out government-granted exclusive marketing rights for years. They also flood the market with copycat drugs that cost a lot more than the drugs they mimic but are no more effective.

The Truth About the Drug Companies is a searing indictment of an industry that has spun out of control”.

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Within the book itself, Dr. Angell describes the unethical and at times inhumane pharmaceutical industry she witnessed in her 21 years spent as the first female editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine. She also gives numerous examples to prove beyond dispute that the world’s biggest drug companies have grown so powerful they are now able to pull the strings and call many of the shots in medical academia, health research and even the way doctors and nurses go about their work. Meanwhile, the public, including more and more of the poor, invalid and elderly, are unable to meet the cost of rapidly increasing prescription drug prices.

For an insight into the profitability of the major pharmaceutical companies, take a gander at the top performers on the latest Fortune 500 list. (Fortune 500 being Fortune Magazine’s annual list of the top 500 US companies – publicly and privately listed – according to their gross revenues).

Fortune 500

At the time of writing, the 2014 Fortune 500 list was the latest available. One of the best summaries of the pharmaceutical companies (drug wholesalers, chain pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), and pharmaceutical manufacturers) we could find is on the very professional DrugChannels.net site. Compiled by Dr. Adam J. Fein, CEO of Drug Channels Institute, it’s an eye-opener for the uninformed.

As Dr. Fein informs the public, his data “will help you ‘follow the dollar’ and understand how drug channel intermediaries make money.”

The good doctor compares the fortunes of the eight listed drug channels companies (AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, McKesson, Omnicare, Rite Aid, and Walgreens) with Fortune 500’s 12 pharmaceutical manufacturers and a separate survey of independent pharmacies.

Dr. Fein reports “The 2013, median revenues for the eight drug channel companies were $95.1 billion, up 1.4% vs. 2012. Median revenues for the manufacturer group were $17.5 billion… The revenues of the 12 largest pharmaceutical manufacturers on the Fortune 500 list range from $67.2 billion (Pfizer) to $5.5 billion (Celgene)”.

In the report he quotes 2012 data supplied by the National Community Pharmacists Association’s 2013 NCPA Digest, which shows that independent pharmacies had higher profitability than the eight largest drug channels companies, including PBMs.

Dr. Fein also observes that, “In 2013…investment returns reflected last year’s strong stock market performance”.

The median Total Return to Investors in 2013 as reported from Fortune’s list is detailed as follows: 8 Drug Channels companies: +65.8% (range: +30.1% to +272.1%); 12 Drug Manufacturers: +34.8% (range: +7.3% to +115.3%).

Starting to get the picture? Big Pharma is mighty profitable and becoming more so each and every year.

You have been reading an excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex.

The book is available via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

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Comments
  1. Catherine says:

    Wow! I had no idea that drug companies go to such lengths to push/promote new drugs. I thought they did their research and clinical trials….and used the information reported from the results to improve/market the drugs. I often wondered why there are numerous drugs for each medical issue released at one time….I had no idea they were putting out inappropriate/ineffective substitutes in order to make their actual effective drug look more “worth” the cost.
    I am a firm believer in medicine….but I don’t rush to the doctor for every sniffle…..I still believe my own immune system is effective….and only go for treatment when absolutely necessary. This, I feel actually makes me more sesnsitive, and therefore I actually need shorter treatments….

    • Catherine says:

      I’d like to add…I think….part of the problem in this day and age, is the fact that society has become too dependent on the “quick fix” that drugs can provide….and so quite often drugs are ineffective simply from overuse…instead of depending on our own immune systems. Granted, our immunity can only do so much before we do need drugs, but I think the drugs might be more effective. On the other hand, then Big Pharma wouldn’t get the big pay-off.

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