Nov 15, 2017

Health care profits concentrated at drug companies

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.

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

Drugmakers opt to mine medical data in lieu of lengthy clinical trials

Big drugmakers Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Amgen have submitted data-mining analyses of electronic medical records to the Food and Drug Administration to help expedite the approval of new or improved medicines, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: So far, parsing patient data instead of carrying out long clinical trials has cut costs and shortened drug-development times for breast cancer, bladder cancer and leukemia drugs.

Go deeperArrowDec 23, 2019

The health care debate we ought to be having

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Scott Eisen/Getty Images and Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Americans worry a lot about how to get and pay for good health care, but the 2020 presidential candidates are barely talking about what's at the root of these problems: Almost every incentive in the U.S. health care system is broken.

Why it matters: President Trump and most of the Democratic field are minimizing the hard conversations with voters about why health care eats up so much of each paycheck and what it would really take to change things.

Health care IPOs had a very good 2019

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Two-thirds of the 68 health care companies that went public in 2019 traded above their IPO price by the end of year — many of which provided huge initial returns to owners and outside investors.

The big picture: The vast majority of health care companies that go public are biotechnology firms. Several of those biotechs in the 2019 class benefited from some promising, but extremely early, clinical trial data.

Go deeperArrowJan 9, 2020