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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 27 mins ago - World

Ukraine crisis: Blinken to visit Kyiv, then meet Russian foreign minister

Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, following a trip to Kyiv to reinforce U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of a possible Russian invasion, according to a senior U.S. official.

Why it matters: The meeting with Lavrov suggests a diplomatic resolution to the crisis may still be on the table, despite the collapse of security talks between Russia and the West last week.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Transplants rebound from COVID lull — CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer — Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines.
  2. Vaccines: Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — America's vaccination drive runs out of gas.
  3. Politics: Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 — Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health."
  4. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  5. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — French parliament passes COVID vaccine passport legislation.
  6. Variant tracker

Mayors feel powerless to reduce homelessness

Expand chart
Recreated from 2021 Menino Survey of Mayors; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

America's mayors know their constituents hold them accountable for homelessness, but many don't feel they have the tools or power to fix things, a brand new survey says.

Why it matters: While homelessness has become more acute during the pandemic, city leaders say they lack the money, staff or political support needed to make a meaningful difference.

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