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Brand-name pharmaceutical companies and health insurers increased their profits in the second quarter of this year, while hospitals and drug distributors had a more difficult run, according to a review of financial documents for 58 publicly traded health care companies.

Between the lines: Drug companies continue to raise their list prices for branded drugs despite the public furor, so they naturally maintained their status as the most profitable sector in health care. Insurers also collected higher profits because fewer people are going to the hospital or doctor, which results in more money staying in their pockets.

Expand chart
Data: Securities and Exchange Commission filings; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios
  • Thirteen companies recorded net profit margins of at least 17% in the second quarter of this year, and almost all of those margins were higher when compared with the same period of 2016. Of those 13 companies, 12 were pharmaceutical firms. Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of pricey hepatitis C and HIV drugs, had the largest profit margin at 43%.
  • The big five health insurers — Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group — each scored higher second-quarter profit margins compared with 2016. Cigna's was the highest at 7.9%.
  • The second quarter was extremely tight for AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, the three dominant drug distributors. All of their profit margins dipped below 1% due to falling generic drug prices.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

UN Security Council meeting on Israel-Gaza as fighting enters 7th day

Smoke billows from a fire following Israeli airstrikes on multiple targets in Gaza on May 16. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council was preparing to meet Sunday, as the aerial bombardment between Israel and Hamas between entered a seventh day.

The latest: Four Palestinians died in airstrikes early Sunday, as Israeli forces bombed the home of Gaza's Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, per Reuters.

7 hours ago - World

In photos: Protests in U.S., across the world over Israeli–Palestinian conflict

A protest march in support of Palestinians near the Washington monument in Washington, D.C. on May 15. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of people rallied across the U.S. and the world Saturday following days of violence in Gaza and Israel that's killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, and eight Israelis, per AP.

The big picture: Most demonstrations were in support of Palestinians. There were tense scenes between pro-Israeli government protesters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Winnipeg, Canada, and Leipzig, Germany, but no arrests were made, CBS News and DW.com report.

Updated 15 hours ago - World

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.