Big Pharma made $711 bln overcharging seniors and disabled10/04/2013 20:58
Here's an outrage that must be changed: Big Pharma has been systematically price-gouging the Medicare program for seniors and people with disabilities -- and raking in billions in excessive profits. The 11 largest global drug companies made an astonishing $711 billion in profits over the 10 years ending in 2012, and they got a turbo-charged boost when the Medicare Part D prescription drug program started in 2006, according to an analysis of corporate filings by Health Care for America Now (HCAN).
The drug companies hold the power to charge America's consumers whatever they want. Worse, Medicare -- the nation's largest purchaser of drugs -- is prohibited by law from seeking better prices. The result of this shortsighted policy is dramatic. In 2006, the first year of Medicare's prescription drug program, the combined profits of the largest drug companies soared 34 percent to $76.3 billion. And unlike other industries, such as Big Oil, drug companies get something even better than a tax subsidy -- they get a government program.
There is nothing wrong with a company making profits -- that's what they're supposed to do. But the drug industry's profits are excessive as a result of overcharging American consumers and taxpayers. We pay significantly more than any other country for the exact same drugs. Per capita drug spending in the U.S. is about 40 percent higher than in Canada, 75 percent greater than in Japan and nearly triple the amount spent in Denmark.
HCAN reviewed the last decade's financial filings from the 11 prescription drug giants: Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Merck, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Even as millions of Americans struggle to afford their medicines and as Republicans in Congress threaten to cut seniors' benefits, these corporate behemoths have extracted $711.4 billion in profits for Wall Street investors. The drug companies' annual profits reached $83.9 billion in 2012, a 62 percent jump from 2003.