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Profits of Big Pharma Relative to the Fortune 500

Robyn Openshaw - Feb 27, 2012 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

I recently misquoted a statistic that stuck in my head a little differently than how I originally read it. Here’s the truth:

In 2002, the combined profits of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies were more than the combined profits than the other 490 companies in the Fortune 500! (This analysis compliments of journalist Randall F. Fitzgerald, published in his book The Hundred-Year Lie.)

(I had said the top 5, and I may have implied a comparison of revenues rather than profits.)

It’s still appalling. One of my frustrations is that many “charities” we give money to are really just funneling even more money into R&D for drug development. It’s certainly expensive to go through clinical trials with a drug. But the companies who can afford to do it stand to make billions on one patented chemical. Dr. Jerry Avorn of Harvard Medical School says, in his book Powerful Medicines,

“There is a comforting shared myth that by the time the FDA approves a new drug, the product has been studied exhaustively and determined to be a worthwhile new addition, and that all its actions in the body, both good and bad, are well defined. In fact none of these assumptions is quite correct. The FDA itself does not study any drugs prior to approval, relying on the company that makes the product to generate that information.”

Dr. Marcia Angell says in her book, The Truth About the Drug Companies, “Is there some way companies can rig clinical trials to make their drugs look better than they are? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Trials can be rigged in a dozen ways and it happens all the time.”

The fox is guarding the henhouse. I don’t give money to the “pink ribbon campaign” or other thinly disguised bankrolling of Big Pharma, to help them make more chemicals that will never cure women of anything.

But thank you to a reader who questioned my statistic about the top pharma companies versus the rest of the Fortune 500.

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3 thoughts on “Profits of Big Pharma Relative to the Fortune 500”

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  1. Anonymous says:


    I just wanted to say thank you for this information. I’m a first-time mom of 11 month old twin boys, and in poking around online in parenting forums, I somehow followed a rabbit hole to your website. I’ve since started drinking at least one green smoothie a day and giving one to my boys (I’d do more but we don’t have a blender, just a little magic bullet- we’re working on it), and I’ve thrown out all our chemical- laden baby shampoos. The look into the pharma industry that you’ve provided, along with your videos and a few other whole-foods, chemical-free websites I’ve found has totally changed my attitude about what I feed my family. Thanks.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Recently we had a relay for life inour community and our ward put together a team in support of 5 cancer patients who have cancer in our ward. I signed up to support our members and did the relay, but I did not earn any money or donate in any way. I kept getting a sick feeling everytime I thought about having to raise money for the drug companies to manufacture more drugs to torture my friends. I have five family members who did alternative treatments, who most were given 4-6 months to live are alive 20 and thirty years later and are the healthiest people I know. I received backlash for not raising money saying it was disrespectful but most understood when I explained why. That pink ribbon stuff is such a scam. Thanks for writting the article.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Emy, WOW, so interesting. We have to stand on conscience! I like the way you found to show support and love but without paying for toxic chemical drips for your friends. You should write us a short paper, the abstract of what your 5 cancer friends have been through, versus what your 5 family members achieved with holistic treatment.

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