The pharmaceutical industry has been an easy target for critics over the years. There is a perception that "Big Pharma" is strictly out for profit and that pharmaceutical companies will stop at nothing to line the pockets of their shareholders. The reality is this: Many of these drugs are saving lives and helping people live happier, healthier lives.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the pharmaceutical industry develops and produces products that help treat a variety of diseases, saving millions of lives and helping people suffering from diseases and illnesses to recover and lead more productive lives. The pharmaceutical industry develops drugs that treat every type of condition imaginable, such as influenza, sexually transmitted diseases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hepatitis, Parkinson's disease and cancer, to name a few. Many of these are devastating and life-altering diseases, and these products help keep patients alive longer.
While some may view the cost of pharmaceutical drugs as a negative aspect of the industry, you can also see cost as a benefit. According to the Pharmaceutcial Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the market share of generic pharmaceuticals was between 42 and 58 percent in 2006. What this means is generic drugs are increasingly available to patients, which drives down costs. Most reports in the media discuss the high cost of drugs and lack of access for certain patients, but the reality is that drugs today are cheaper and more accessible than ever before due to increased competition in the marketplace. Additionally, economic development in countries like India and China are driving down global prices for pharmaceutical products even more.
Pharmaceutical companies employed nearly 300,000 people in the United States in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and nearly 87 percent of the companies in the pharmaceutical industry employed more than 100 workers in 2008. The tax benefits to the United States are substantial as well. Pfizer alone posted $44 billion worth of revenue in 2008, according to Contract Pharma. The economic climate impacts the pharmaceutical industry, but profitable companies result in more taxable revenue for the U.S. People may criticize this amount of profit from one company, but consider this: The underlying goal of every single business is to make money. People single out pharmaceutical companies for making profits, but it's important to remember that they also create products that save millions of lives.