Oct 28, 2022

New Earnings Reports Show Big Pharma Giants Basking in Massive Profits, Beating Wall Street Expectations After Repeatedly Hiking Drug Prices

New earnings reports for the third quarter of 2022 continue to demonstrate the pharmaceutical industry is basking in massive profits after repeated price hikes on brand name prescription drugs in their portfolios. Big Pharma giants Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Novartis all recently announced earnings for the third quarter that bested Wall Street earnings expectations.


  • Merck topped Wall Street earnings and sales expectations for the third quarter, reporting net income of $3.25 billion.
  • The pharmaceutical company projects full-year 2022 worldwide sales to reach nearly $60 billion.
  • Merck posted $15 billion Q3 worldwide sales, an increase of 14 percent year over year.
  • The company’s pharmaceutical division performed strongly, bringing in $12.96 billion in the quarter, an increase of 13 percent.
  • Merck’s blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda generated $5.4 billion in sales, up 20 percent in Q3.

Bristol Myers Squibb

  • Bristol Myers Squibb reported third-quarter revenue of $11.22 billion, topping analysts’ expectations.
  • The company’s blockbuster cancer drug Revlimid brought in $2.4 billion – above analyst estimates.
  • Bristol Myers Squibb’s strong revenue performance comes after the company completed its acquisition of Turning Point Therapeutics, expanding its oncology portfolio.
  • The pharmaceutical company’s U.S. revenues increased nine percent to $7.9 billion.


  • Novartis reported earnings that beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations for Q3 this year.
  • The pharmaceutical company posted $12.5 billion in revenue, up four percent on a constant currency basis.
  • Novartis’ Q3 sales grew four percent, driven by continued growth in the company’s biopharmaceuticals division,
  • Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Novartis’ bid to block the launch of generic versions of the company’s blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya, which generated $2.8 billion in sales last year.

The strong earnings reports from the Big Pharma companies come against a backdrop of significant price hikes launched throughout the pandemic, and as brand name pharmaceutical giants have faced repeated backlash for engaging in anti-competitive tactics and questionable behavior.


  • Merck hiked prices on nearly 30 prescription drugs in 2022, including a five percent increase on blockbuster diabetes medicines Januvia and Janumet – both by five percent.
  • Merck increased prices 20 times in 2021 – by an average of five percent.
  • The brand name company also raised the price of HIV therapy treatment Isentress by almost five percent last year.
  • Merck’s blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda, which brought in $4.58 billion in Q4, is on track to become “the highest-selling drug in the world and would be a Fortune 200 company on its own.”
  • In 2020, Merck hiked drug prices at least 45 times. 

Bristol Myers Squibb

  • Bristol Myers Squibb began 2022 by hiking prices on more than a dozen prescription drugs in January – and continued by hiking prices on an additional six prescription products in July.
  • Price hikes so far this year have included two key cancer drugs, Opdivo and Revlimid, as well as blockbuster blood thinner drug Eliquis.
  • Bristol Myers Squibb hiked prices on at least ten medications to start out 2021.
  • Later in the year, the company reported that research and development expenses decreased 30 percent while simultaneously approving $15 billion in new stock buybacks.
  • In 2020, Bristol Myers Squibb hiked prices on at least 15 medications.
  • This was business as usual for Bristol Myers Squibb. From 2015 to 2019, the company had the most price hikes per drug of any Big Pharma company.  


  • This summer, Novartis raised the price of Adakveo, a popular treatment for sickle cell disease for adults.
  • Novartis began 2022 by hiking prices on more than 20 prescription drugs – including a seven percent increase on breast cancer drug Kisqali.
  • Novartis increased prices 20 times in January of 2021 and more than 30 times in 2020, including a seven percent hike on blockbuster psoriasis drug Cosentyx each year.
  • Novartis increased prices at least 57 times in 2019 by an average of 6.3 percent.
  • Novartis hiked the prices of Cosentyx and Entresto in 2019 by a staggering 10 percent

Read more on Q3 earnings from Big Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson HERE.

Stay tuned as we continue to monitor earnings calls from Big Pharma for the third quarter of the year.

Learn more about market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable and lower prescription drug prices HERE.