As anger rose over prescription drug prices, two Washington lawmakers criticized drug makers for taking advantage of Americans, but wanted numbers to back up their claims. Now a new government report, which they requested, provide those numbers — and also potential ammunition in the fight over drug prices.
From 2006 to 2015, global sales for the pharmaceutical industry, including biotech companies, jumped 45 percent to $775 billion. Two-thirds of all drug makers experienced rising profit margins, which averaged 17 percent in 2015. And from 2008 through 2014, worldwide R&D spending — most of which went to drug development, rather than research — increased 8.5 percent, to $89 billion.
In short, the industry was pocketing more money while prices were either rising for many medicines or high prices were set for new treatments, but R&D funding increased only slightly, according to the report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The report was requested by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).