Big Pharma Earnings Watch: Three More Pharma Giants Top Earnings Forecasts, Raise Outlooks

Apr 30, 2019

Three more earnings reports from drug makers show Big Pharma is doing just fine as rising prices continue to hammer American patients.

Today, Big Pharma giants Eli Lilly, Merck and Pfizer released their quarterly profits.  All three companies beat earnings forecasts.

  • Despite a drop in revenue, Eli Lilly still beat profit expectations.
  • Merck earned $10.81 billion, beating estimates of $10.48 billion
  • Pfizer earned $13.12 billion, beating estimates of $12.99 billion.

The three drug makers keep a quarter one trend alive that has seen large pharmaceutical manufacturers all topping earnings forecasts, while continuing to price gouge patients.

Eli Lilly is one of three companies that control 99 percent of the insulin market.  Thanks to this lack of market competition, insulin prices have steadily risen – forcing some patients to ration their dosages.  Here’s one example of Eli Lilly price going diabetic patients:

  • The Price Of A 10-Milliliter Vial Of Eli Lilly’s Humalog Insulin Cost $21 In 1996, But The Same Vial Now Costs $275.“In 1996, when Eli Lilly debuted its Humalog brand of insulin, the list price of a 10-milliliter vial was $21.  The price of the same vial is now $275. T hose costs can be compounded by the multiple vials that diabetics may require to survive each month.” (Tiffany Stanley, “Life, Death And Insulin,” The Washington Post, 1/7/19)

Merck has repeatedly hiked prices on its popular drugs:

  • From 2012 To 2017, Merck & Co. Raised The Price Of Its Drug To Treat High Cholesterol, Zetia, By 114 Percent.(“Manufactured Crisis,”  Senate HSGAC, 3/27/18)
  • Merck’s List Prices Increased Nearly Seven Percent In 2017 And “Before That, Merck’s Average Annual List Prices Had Increased By At Least Nine Percent Since 2011.”(Peter Loftus, “Merck To Limit Drug-Price Increases, Cut Some Prices,” The Wall Street Journal, 7/19/18)

Got pain or heat trouble?  Pfizer, the largest Big Pharma giant of them all, will make it cost you.

  • Since 2012, Pfizer Has Hiked The Price Of Best Selling Drug, Lyrica, To Treat Pain, By 163 Percent. (“Overpatented, Overpriced: Special Humira Edition,” I-MAK, Accessed 2/7/19)
  • From 2012 To 2017, Pfizer Raised The Price Of Its Heart Drug Nitrostat By 477 Percent.(“Manufactured Crisis, ”S. Senate HSGAC, 3/27/18)

If first-quarter earnings are any indication of Big Pharma’s trajectory, it’s safe to say they’re not changing course anytime soon.  In fact, one CEO went on record and said he was “very happy” with his company’s first quarter earnings and hoped to “build on the momentum.”  The three forecast-topping announcements today build on the Big Pharma trend started by expectation-exceeding Q1 earnings from Sanofi, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AbbVie, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson.

While Big Pharma is raking in the cash, millions of patients continue to suffer because of rising drug prices.

Fortunately, there are a number of bipartisan, market-based solutions raised in Washington that would hold Big Pharma accountable, increase competition and lower prices, including the CREATES Act, the REMEDY Act, Purple and Orange Book Improvements, and those addressing pay-for-delay.  CSRxP urges lawmakers to continue fighting for patients by advancing concrete, market-based solutions to deliver relief.