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Pharma's accounting games

The Securities and Exchange Commission building
The SEC has warned companies about using misleading numbers. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The largest U.S. pharmaceutical companies are among the most profitable entities in the world, but they also routinely report figures that paint a much rosier picture of their financials, based on a report from the bank Credit Suisse.

Why it matters: The Securities and Exchange Commission has warned companies not to use misleading financial statistics, or else face penalties.