Off the Charts: Pay, Profits and Spending by
Refuting industry claims that high drug prices are necessary to sustain research and development efforts.
LINKS HIGH DRUG PRICES TO ADVERTISING, PROFITS, AND ENORMOUS EXECUTIVE SALARIES
Washington, D.C. - A new report by the consumer health organization Families USA refutes the pharmaceutical industry's claim that high and increasing drug prices are needed to sustain research and development. The report documents that drug companies are spending more than twice as much on marketing, advertising, and administration than they do on research and development; that drug company profits, which are higher than all other industries, exceed research and development expenditures; and that drug companies provide lavish compensation packages for their top executives.
The report comes on the heels of a recent Families USA analysis that found prices rose more than twice the rate of inflation last year for the 50 most-prescribed drugs to seniors.
Among the nine pharmaceutical companies examined in the report - Merck, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pharmacia, Abbott Laboratories, American Home Products, Eli Lilly, Schering-Plough, and Allergan - all but one (Eli Lilly) spent more than twice as much on marketing, advertising, and administration than they did on research and development, and Lilly spent more than one and one-half times as much. Six out of the nine companies made more money in net profits than they spent on research and development last year. [see chart 1.]
The report also documents profligate spending on compensation packages for top pharmaceutical executives. The executive with the highest compensation package in the year 2000, exclusive of unexercised stock options, was William C. Steere, Jr., Pfizer's Chairman, who made $40.2 million. The executive with the highest amount of unexercised stock options was C.A. Heimbold, Jr., Bristol-Myers Squibb's Chairman and CEO, who held $227.9 million in unexercised stock options. [see charts 2 and 3.]
"Pharmaceutical companies charging skyrocketing drug prices like to sugar coat the pain by saying those prices are needed for research and development," said Ron Pollack, Families USA's executive director. "The truth is high prices are much more associated with record-breaking profits and enormous compensation for top drug company executives."
Pollack added, "Drug companies' commitments to research and development are dwarfed by those companies' expenditures for marketing, advertising, and administration."
In 2000, the pharmaceutical industry was, once again, the most profitable U.S. industry, and profit margins in the industry were nearly four times the average of Fortune 500 companies. According to the Families USA report, three companies - Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Abbott Laboratories - received twice as much in net profits than they spent on research and development. Three other companies -