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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Wall, PharmD, RPh

The Pharmaceutical Industry and Funding Healthcare Costs

Over the years, the pharmaceutical industry has made huge profits from the necessary and sometimes life-saving medications that are needed by its customers. In fact, according to the JAMA Network, “From 2000 to 2018, 35 large pharmaceutical companies reported cumulative revenue of $11.5 trillion, gross profit of $8.6 trillion, EBITDA of $3.7 trillion, and net income of $1.9 trillion.” Despite the huge revenue that these companies make, they pay very little in corporate taxes.

The Nation reported in 2018 that pharmaceutical companies avoided paying $2.3 billion in taxes in just the United States. All of the tax loopholes used by these companies are legal and they are not the only large corporations taking advantage of these cuts. If the United States government alone held accountable the pharmaceutical giants to pay their fair share of corporate taxes, our healthcare system could benefit greatly. What if that $2.3 billion in taxes had been used to fund wellness programs, help reduce prescription drug costs for the elderly or uninsured patients, and even provide vaccinations to children.

In 2019, Oxfam reported Merck & Co, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Abbott should have paid $3.8 billion worldwide in taxes. If that money had been paid and governments invested this money in healthcare, it could have paid for 10 million girls to be vaccinated against the virus that causes cervical cancer and pneumonia vaccines for nearly nine million children. These vaccines would save countless lives around the globe.

While the costs of healthcare continue to rise, more Americans are being forced to choose between buying food or paying for essential prescription medicines. All the while the pharmaceutical industry and its investors continue to see record breaking profit at the cost of its customers – the American taxpayers.

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