Jul 25, 2023

Top Five Drug Makers By U.S. Market Cap Plowed Soaring Earnings Into Stock Buybacks and Dividends Rather Than R&D

In case you missed it, on Monday, a new analysis from Accountable.US found the five largest pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. by market cap – Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, AbbVie and Pfizer – had total earnings of $81.9 billion in 2022, an increase of $8.8 billion over 2021.

The watchdog group found stock buybacks and dividends among the Big Pharma giants increased by $6.9 billion over that two-year period, including:

  • AbbVie, maker of blockbuster drugs Humira and Imbruvica, gave out $11.1 billion in stock buybacks and dividends on the year, a 12 percent increase over the previous year and $4.6 billion more than the brand name drug company spent on research and development (R&D).
  • Pfizer showered shareholders with nearly $11 billion in stock buybacks and dividends in 2022 amid repeated price hikes and planned future price increases on the company’s products, including its COVID-19 vaccine.

The massive increase in earnings and profits coincides with a series of bogus campaigns from the pharmaceutical industry pointing a finger at others in the supply chain for rising drug prices and breathlessly claiming solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable to lower prices would undermine innovation.

The new report revealed that from January 2020 and September 2022, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent $69.5 million on lobbying against bills aimed at lowering the price of prescription drugs.

The findings also come on the heels of Big Pharma engaging in another round of price hikes this month. Over the first two weeks of July, 59 manufacturers raised the price on 105 brand name pharmaceuticals. In January, Big Pharma increased prices on at least 587 brand name prescription drugs in the first two weeks of the year.

Additionally, drug makers are in the middle of their latest round of earnings reports for the second quarter of 2023. Last week, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis kicked things off by posting massive profits after several price hikes last year.

Read the full Accountable.US report HERE.

Read more on Big Pharma’s most recent round of price hikes HERE.

Learn more about bipartisan, market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable HERE.