Properly unhealthy

Big Pharma rakes in 40–90% profit margins on cancer medicines

Pharmaceutical companies enjoy huge pricing power due to patent-based and regulatory monopolies. The pharma industry argues that these high prices serve to hedge against the high risks associated with the research and development (R & D) process for new drugs. Yet it refuses to provide any transparency around actual investments made. It is challenging for researchers and specialised NGOs to estimate the amount of these investments, and both datasets and methodologies are hotly debated. For the industry and its lobbyists, this is a question of nothing less than the legitimacy of their business model.

Public Eye estimated the R & D costs for six cancer treatments marketed by Novartis, Roche, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb and MSD Merck Sharp & Dohme and calculated the profit margins for the individual treatments in Switzerland. The resulting profit margins of 40–90 percent are huge and far exceed those of other sectors. The high prices of cancer treatments make a significant contribution to the companies’ exorbitant return on investment and to the skyrocketing costs
of Swiss healthcare. Under these conditions, equitable access for all is no longer guaranteed.

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