June 23, 2024


Advocacy. Mediation. Success.

New GAO Report on Drug Industry Profits

Just before the vacations, the U.S. Federal government Accountability Place of work (GAO) launched a new report about the biopharmaceutical business entitled Earnings, Investigate and Growth Paying, and Merger and Acquisition Deals (Report).  GAO is nonpartisan federal company that is effective to guide Congress.  More info about GAO, their mission, and values, can be located below.

This new Report will be of curiosity to anyone next the dialogue surrounding drug pricing controversies.  Portion of what will make drug pricing controversies, properly, controversial is the thought that drug organizations are profiting more than they should really.  Or, in any function, are experiencing income margins far in extra of other industries.

The Report does not acquire on the normative features of these challenges, but does present some beneficial information.

The Report examined information from 2006-2015 and located that normal income margins for most biopharmaceutical organizations greater all through this period.[one]  That stated, there have been massive disparities concerning the top 25 organizations and the other biopharmaceutical organizations examined.  GAO located the next about normal income margins for:[2]

  • All drug organizations in 2015 was 17.one%
  • The biggest 25 organizations in 2015 was twenty.one%
  • The remaining organizations in 2015 was 8.six%

For comparison and context, GAO examined the income margins of other industries.  They seemed at the two the biggest five hundred organizations by 2015 revenue and also singled out the program business “because, like the drug business, it has been cited as possessing higher R&D financial commitment and very low production and distribution expenditures, even though warning should really be taken in generating this comparison.”[three]  Here’s what GAO located:[4]

  • Regular income margins for the 25 biggest program organizations was roughly 21.7% from 2006-2014, and then lessened to thirteen.4% in 2015
  • Regular income margins for the biggest five hundred organizations (excluding pharmaceutical, biotechnology and program organizations) was 8.9% in 2006 and lessened to six.7% in 2015

These conclusions are useful.

When they do help the contention that some biopharmaceutical organizations income on normal far more than organizations in other sectors, the information propose a need to have for disaggregation.  Not all biopharmaceutical organizations are alike.  twenty.one% income margins are a whole lot greater than six.7% margins, but 8.six% margins are substantially closer.  Also, offered the disparities concerning the income margins of the biggest 25 biopharmaceutical organizations and all people else, to emphasis on an business normal of 17.one% supplies an incomplete photo.

Other features of the Report, such as its estimates about the pharmaceutical industry’s R&D expending (expending grew somewhat by 8% above the study course of 2008-2014)[5] and estimates about R&D expenditures relative to other industries (pharmaceutical organizations claimed expending more than “other comparably significant, R&D-intense sectors”)[six] are also interesting.

The Report is truly worth a glance for all those next these challenges.  And, as it was asked for by Congress, it is sensible to assume that it will play a function in foreseeable future discussions on the Hill.


Rebecca E. Wolitz is a Fellow in the Centre for Regulation and the Biosciences

[one] U.S. Gov’t Accountability Place of work, GAO-18-40, Drug Sector Earnings, Investigate and Growth Paying, and Merger and Acquisition Deals fifteen, 17 (2017).  This “[e]stimate is based on an assessment of 403 organizations in the sector repeatedly from 2006 by 2015. Earnings margins have been weighted by companies’ claimed pharmaceutical and biotechnology product sales revenue for each and every yr. Bloomberg calculates income margin as (internet revenue/revenue)*one hundred. This ratio is computed on a article-tax basis.” Id. at 17 n.32.

[2] Id. at 17-18.

[three] Id. at 19.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 29. Even though it is unclear regardless of whether this calculation excludes biotechnology organizations.  See p. 31.

[six] Id. at 31.  See p. 32 for a useful table.