In an industry responsible for well over 100,000 over-the-counter (non-prescription) substances alone, not including prescription medications, you have to wonder who is responsible for all of these products.
The answer to that is a vast number of employees, many large companies and an extremely rigid, well formed governmental system set above it to monitor its ethics.
In our previous post we went over just how incredibly huge Big Pharma actually is in terms of the sheer mountains of money that pour in and out of the industry.
Big Pharma is, without a doubt, a monumental economic boon to the United States. In fact, the US pharmaceutical market is even three times the size of the Chinese market.
In the year 2011, the pharmaceutical industry accounted for 21% of all US business research. This massive slice of the American research and development pie leads to an abundance of employment opportunities.
An astonishing employment statistic is the fact that the pharmaceutical industry employs over 850,000 workers in a plethora of positions. If you include indirect employment such as supplies, vendors and third party companies Big Pharma is responsible for the employment of just shy of 4.5 million people.
Beyond the great employment opportunities in the US, where you can earn a comparatively higher salary than most other industries, we should be grateful for the regulatory bodies that prevent unethical behavior in the production of our medications.
The pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated in the United States. This serves as a very large boon given that, most of the time, you can trust the medication that you are given has been tested many times over and should not have unforeseen, harmful side effects beyond the potential positive effects it could have on you.
Unfortunately, there are still some mistakes that happen either through negligence or on accident.
In the US it was common for only 2 out of every 10 medicines that are produced through intensive, years-long research and development to generate returns that exceed average research and development cost.
This may account for why medication is so prohibitively expensive. Newly developed drugs are eligible for at least five years of market exclusivity depending upon the time between patent acceptance and FDA approval.
During this time period, the pharmaceutical company can basically set its price to whatever it wants. There are really no regulations preventing Big Pharma from exploiting unwell consumers.
Given that pharmaceutical companies must spend so much money on R&D, these sky high prices must simply be set to recoop losses you would think.
You would be wrong, and that is where the dark side of Big Pharma begins.
Tune in next week to learn about some of the questionable practices that Big Pharma partakes in.