Fact Sheet: Pharma Greed Kills


Compiled by members of Picket the Profiteers, a single-payer advocacy project of PNHP NY-Metro and several grassroots community organizations.

#Big Pharma’s Rigged Economics

  • The drug industry is among the most profitable in the world, far more so than most Fortune 500 sectors.
  • Drug companies charge prices far higher in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, even though they make good profits on their products everywhere.
  • At the start of 2019, drug companies raised their prices by 6.3% on average. Pfizer alone raise the prices of more than 40 drugs.
  • Several previously-affordable, essential (first-line-treatment) medicines have been hijacked by hedge-fund criminals like Martin Shkreli and had their prices raised up to 5,000% within the past 14 years.
  • Many of these drugs lack therapeutic alternatives, are produced by a few manufacturers (in some cases, only one), and exist in a market that offers little incentive for new entrants, thus offering “get rich quick” opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of patients and society.
  • Drug companies use patent abuse, market segmentation and other strategies to keep prices high, while justifying these high prices by asserting that the higher profits they generate fund research that accelerates the development of new medicines.
  • However, studies show that these companies spend nearly every penny of their profits on distributions to shareholders in the forms of cash dividends and stock buybacks.
  • In fact some companies have admitted to spending as little 3% of their total revenue on research and development.
  • Maximizing profits for shareholders is their main reason for being and price gouging is easier than developing new drugs that add real value to the healthcare system. So innovation has lagged in favor of generating returns for financial investors.
  • Meanwhile, the US government provides scientific, legal and government taxation advantages that provide taxpayer subsidies and other forms of support for pharmaceutical companies’ product innovations.

#Big Pharma’s Disastrous Impact on People’s Health Care and Budgets

  • Per capita spending on prescription drugs in the United States is double the average of other advanced countries. If nothing changes, prescription drug spending in the US is estimated to double in the next decade.
  • An estimated 20 millionS. residents are purchasing prescription drugs from Canada or other countries outside the US in order to pay a lower price.
  • 1 in 4 US families reports difficulty paying for their prescription medications.
  • Many patients go without or limit the medicines they need because they can’t afford them, suffering with continued illness -- some even die.

#Big Pharma Uses Its Vast Wealth to Block Legislative Change

  • #Big Pharma buys our government through huge election campaign donations, and hires legions of lobbyists to shape and block legislation. The industry deploys 3 lobbyists for every one member of Congress.
  • #BigPharma has joined forces with their allies in #BigInsurance and #BigMedicine to oppose moves toward a single-payer program so that they all can maintain their joint dominance over our healthcare system to protect and increase their profits.
  • Pramila Jayapal’s and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All Act and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried’s and Senator Gustavo Rivera’s New York Health Act will all enact a universal single-payer healthcare system that will guarantee healthcare as a human right and put a serious check on drug company price-gouging. All these bills will require the government to use its bargaining clout as the representative of millions of people covered by the program to negotiate significantly lower prices.


More information on Single-Payer proposals:

Physicians for a National Health Program - pnhp.org/pharma

Physicians for a National Health Program – NY Metro - pnhp.org

Campaign for New York Health - nyhcampaign.org