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The Russia Today article Pharmageddon: America’s bitter pill claims

The pharmaceutical industry remains the most profitable business in the US. More success and financial gain for the companies will always remain possible as long as more Americans are encouraged to take drugs.

I find this pretty hard to believe, so is it?

  • 2
    Are we talking only about profits that are then paid to the investors? Or also profits that are then used for research into new drugs? – GEdgar Jul 15 '15 at 13:45
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Depends on how you define "profitable". But either way it's not the top one.

I couldn't find more recent data, but in 2008 pharmaceutical industry wasn't the most profitable, although it was high in various rankings, not so high in others (source CNN):

Profit as percentage of revenue

  1. Network and Other Communications Equipment 28.8%
  2. Mining, Crude-Oil Production 23.8%
  3. Pharmaceuticals 15.8%
  4. Medical Products and Equipment 15.2%
  5. Oil and Gas Equipment, Services 13.7%
  6. Commercial Banks 12.6%
  7. Railroads 12.4%
  8. Entertainment 12.4%
  9. Insurance: Life, Health (stock) 10.6%
  10. Household and Personal Products 10.2%

Profit as percentage of assets

  1. Network and Other Communications Equipment 13.9%
  2. Medical Products and Equipment 12.1%
  3. Oil and Gas Equipment, Services 11.0%
  4. Household and Personal Products 10.4%
  5. Food Services 10.4%
  6. Pharmaceuticals 9.1%
  7. Specialty Retailers 8.5%
  8. Wholesalers: Diversified 8.4%
  9. Petroleum Refining 8.3%
  10. Mining, Crude-Oil Production 7.8%

Revenue per $ of asset

  1. Wholesalers: Health Care 3.91
  2. Food and Drug Stores 2.78
  3. Wholesalers: Electronics and Office Equipment 2.63
  4. Automotive Retailing, Services 2.62
  5. Wholesalers: Diversified 2.10
  6. Specialty Retailers 2.03
  7. Engineering, Construction 1.93
  8. Petroleum Refining 1.90
  9. Health Care: Pharmacy and Other Services 1.78
  10. Food Production 1.75

...

40 . Pharmaceuticals 0.52

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  • 11
    just to add, total profit of all Pharmaceuticals in the fortune 1000 from your source is ~$40,000 million, which is less than just Exxon Mobile. – Ryathal Feb 7 '13 at 18:25
  • 2
    how about gross profits? – Neil McGuigan Feb 19 '13 at 20:02

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