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Ninety-nine of the largest publicly traded health care companies cumulatively collected $33 billion of profit and $577 billion of revenue worldwide in the third quarter this year, according to earnings reports we tracked. Pharmaceutical companies collected more than 60% of those profits, but only 22% of the revenue.

Expand chart
Data: SEC filings; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

The bottom line: Drug companies handle a small portion of U.S. and global health care spending, but reap a majority of the overall profit.

Here are other takeaways from our analysis of 2017 third-quarter earnings reports:

  • No health care company netted more profits than Johnson & Johnson, the behemoth maker of drugs, medical devices and consumer products like Band-Aids and Tylenol. Its net profit was $3.8 billion in the quarter.
  • Eight of the 15 highest net profit margins were at drug companies.
  • Twelve of the 15 highest net profit totals were at drug companies.
  • McKesson controlled more health care dollars than any other company, with $52.1 billion of revenue. But lower generic drug prices contributed to the distributor's break-even margin.

Go deeper

California wildfire explodes in size, destroys historic town

Battalion Chief Sergio Mora looks on as the Dixie fire burns through downtown Greenville, Calif. on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo: Josh EdelsonAFP via Getty Images

The small Sierra town of Greenville, California, was heavily damaged on Wednesday night into early Thursday as the Dixie Fire surged northward amid high winds, extremely dry air and hot temperatures.

The latest: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, continued to threaten communities in Plumas County into Thursday night, as more mandatory evacuation orders were issued in the region.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Top labor leader Richard Trumka dies unexpectedly at 72

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who led the largest federation of unions in the country for over a decade, has died at 72.

The big picture: Trumka began working as a coal miner in 1968 and would go on to dedicate his life to the labor movement, including as president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO beginning in 2009.

Biden signs bill awarding Congressional Gold Medals to officers who responded to Jan. 6 attack

President Biden, joined by Vice President Harris, lawmakers and members of law enforcement and their families, signs legislation to award Congressional Gold Medals to law enforcement in the Rose Garden. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Biden signed legislation awarding Congressional Gold Medals to the law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Why it matters: The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress' "highest expression of national appreciation," notes the New York Times.

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