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How Big Pharma’s Money is Affecting our Health and our Wallets

Pharmaceutical companies are the power brokers of the medical industry. The influence of pharmaceutical companies on prescription drugs has had a significant impact on the health of Americans, such as the release of defective drugs, which can end in lawsuits. Even more, a recent ProPublica report shows that between August 2013 and December 2014, pharmaceutical companies spent $3.49 billion in payments to various organizations.

Who received the money?
  • 681,020 doctors received payments from pharmaceutical companies for their work
  • 1,135 teaching hospitals received payments
  • 1,565 companies received payments
Which individual doctors received payments?

Several doctors throughout the country received multimillion dollar payments from pharmaceutical firms. The highest earning doctor was Dr. Sujata Naraya, a specialist in family medicine, who received $43.9 million. The second highest earning doctor according to the spending data was Dr. Karen Underwood, a specialist in pediatric critical care, who received $28.5 million.

Which companies spent the most?

The following companies were responsible for the vast majority of the expenditures:

  • Genentech, Inc. made $388 million in payments made to 1,888 doctors
  • DePuy Synthes Products (makers of the defective DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant) made $94.7 million in payments made to 364 doctors
  • AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals made $90.7 million in payments made to 128,461 doctors
Disparities between marketing and R&D spending

Many of the leading pharmaceutical companies spent more money on marketing than they did on the research and development of their own products. The highest spending company was Johnson & Johnson, makers of Risperdal and Xarelto, who spent $17.5 billion on marketing and only $8.2 billion on research and development

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