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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

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

3 hours ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).

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