Written by: Hiyaguha Cohen
The pharmaceutical industry in the US reaps more than $300 billion a year in profits from selling prescription medicines (and that’s not counting sales of therapeutic devices), making it the single most profitable business in the country.1 In fact, projections show that the industry is poised to jump to $400 billion in earnings within the next three years, increasing proceeds by an extraordinary $125 billion each year. What’s incredible here isn’t just that pharmaceuticals add up to such big business, but rather, that they net such incredible profits in spite of the fact that they rank as the Number 2 cause of unintentional death in this country, surpassing even traffic fatalities.
But somehow, in spite of the deadly track record, pharmaceutical sales continue to increase by gargantuan margins. To stay at the top of the heap requires not only ingenuity and effort, it turns out, but also bribery. Jon Barron has written before about the how drug companies make contributions large and small to doctors and medical organizations in order to woo them. As an example, in the last six months of 2009, industry giant Pfizer paid more than $20 million to 4,500 doctors and other medical professionals for consulting and speaking on its behalf. >