Feb 17, 2021

Analysis Finds Drug Companies Posted Banner Year For Profits and Mergers While Hiking Drug Prices During Pandemic

A new report on the pharmaceutical industry from research firm Evaluate Vantage lays out in detail the blockbuster year Big Pharma had in 2020, while the industry repeatedly raised prescription drug prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic. From ballooning stock market valuations to sky-high profits on treatments developed with taxpayer investment to mega mergers, Evaluate Vantage’s report shows how 2020 was a banner year for Big Pharma while American patients faced unprecedented economic uncertainty and out-of-control drug prices.

“In many ways COVID-19 turbocharged an industry that was already riding fairly high,” the report concludes. “This also resulted in ballooning stock market valuations, with many companies ending the year worth substantially more than at the beginning.”

Key takeaways from the Evaluate Vantage report include:

Stock Market Performance

  • Despite doubts early during the pandemic, drug makers ended 2020 worth half a trillion dollars more than when the year started.
  • Shares of Eli Lilly soared 28 percent, while shares of AbbVie shot up 21 percent during the year.
  • AbbVie added $58.2 billion to their market cap in 2020, while Eli Lilly and Moderna added $35.3 billion and $34.8 billion respectively.
Mergers & Acquisitions
  • M&A transactions in 2020 totaled nearly $130 billion, with deals announced by AstraZeneca, Gilead and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
  • The year’s biggest deal was AstraZeneca’s $39 billion dollar bid for Alexion Pharmaceuticals.
  • Gilead was responsible for two deals this past year, shelling out a combined $26 billion for Immunomedics and Forty Seven.

Big Pharma giants’ record year came as the industry engaged in repeated price hikes during the pandemic. Already this year, drug companies have enacted more than 800 price increases on brand name medications, and last year, Big Pharma hiked prices more than 1,000 times, including at the height of the pandemic.

The report also comes on the heels of a series of Q4 earnings reports from Big Pharma companies, which demonstrate that price hikes continue to support sky-high profits for brand name drug makers.

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