What is Big Pharma?
Big Pharma is a term that refers to the giants of the pharmaceutical industry. Collectively, they made approximately $690 billion in 2012 and are projected to exceed one trillion in 2014. That’s more than the GDP of Saudi Arabia and Iraq combined. Because of the immense profitability, many question the ethics involved in research, FDA approval, manufacturing, and prescriptions of the pharmaceuticals. Big Pharma doesn’t just sell pharmaceuticals; they influence the entire healthcare industry.
Who is Big Pharma?
Generally, Big Pharma consists of the biggest drug companies who make more than three billion dollars each year. Of the top eleven giants, six are headquartered in the U.S. These companies spend multi-millions of dollars each year to lobby Congress for legislation in their favor. U.S. pharmaceutical companies reportedly have 1,100 lobbyists who make sure they are represented.
Whose political campaigns are funded by Big Pharma?
In 2012 Big Pharma favored the Republicans, but they also hedged their bets by backing the Democrats. About $16.2 million was spent by the top twenty pharmaceutical companies for Democratic and Republican campaign contributions. The top three that donated over one million dollars in campaign funds were Pfizer, Amgen, and Abbott, with Merck a few dollars shy of one million.
Some of the biggest giants are listed below.
Top 10 Pharmaceutical Companies
(based on 2012 pharmaceutical revenues in billions)
(based on 2012 pharmaceutical revenues in billions)
Johnson & Johnson: They sell drug-store drugs like Tylenol, Band-Aids, and baby shampoo.
Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson, makes surgical items. One of their products, a vaginal mesh implant, is currently under fire. They have 1800 lawsuits filed against them.
Pfizer: Lipitor (cholesterol problems), Viagra (erectile dysfunction), Celebrex (arthritis), and Lyrica (neuropathic pain) are some of their most advertised. Despite their huge sales, they claim huge overhead in taxes, advertising, and research and development. Later on I will go more into R&D, as they really aren’t paying for all that is claimed. The tax-payer unwittingly pays for much of their R&D.
Novartis: Gilenya (Multiple Sclerosis) and Diovan (hypertension) are some of their top sellers.
Merck: Singulair for asthma and Zetia for cholesterol are some of their big movers. They also manufacture several vaccines.
Abbott Labs: Klacid (antibiotic), Biaxin (bacterial infections), Luvox (anti-depressant), and Synthroid (thyroid) are some of their many products.
Big Pharma claims they are in the business of curing and controlling diseases. Their real mission, like all businesses, is to increase profits. Unlike most businesses they do not have to play by the same rules. Their twenty-year patents given out for each of their new drugs give them a monopoly. This prevents other countries from making cheaper versions. TRIPS (international intellectual property rights organization) legally protects them from others cutting into their profits.
Can they patent plants found in remote places of the world?
Yes. They can and they do, especially in the rain forest, through a process called bio-prospecting. They get away with it by paying indigenous people a stipend for exploration of new plants. To patent something suggests that it’s an invention. How are plants grown in the rain forest an invention? Again, Big Pharma does not have to play by the rules. They pay for the legislation that enables them to take what they want.
Many of these companies will protect their empires at any and all costs. Lying to Federal Drug Administration, submitting fraudulent data, bribing doctors, omitting side effects, and bullying the supplement industry are some of the ways they play ball. Lastly, some conspiracy theories claim Big Pharma hide cures to terrible diseases to continue steady, gigantic profits.
What is Big-Agri?
This book began with exploring the inner workings of Big-Pharma from a lay-person’s perspective. My research constantly overlapped another mammoth industry called Big-Agri.
Big-Agri is short for big agriculture or farming corporations that are taking over the farming industry on a global level. This kingdom controls many aspects of farming such as crop production through technology and pesticides. One of their main contributions to the world’s food supply is the controversial use of GMOs or genetically modified organisms. Later on in this book I will elaborate on GMOs. GM stands for genetically modified and then there is the term GE for genetically engineered. These terms basically mean the same thing and will be used interchangeably for the purposes of this book. GM/GE/GMOs are a growing business of genetically engineered food.
GMOs have led to other modified things such as glow-in-the dark cats, cabbage with scorpion venom, less flatulent cows, vaccinated bananas, cancer medicine eggs, and mass carbon eating plants. The possibilities are endless, producing results that make for a great horror/sci-fi movie. Much of the GMO food has earned the nickname “Franken-food”.
The giant corporations that make up Big-Agri are Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta. Other corporations that make up the business include machinery (John Deere), ADM (grain transport), and AB Agri (animal feeds, micro-ingredients, and biofuels). In this book, I will be referring to Big-Agri in strictly crops, food, or pesticides.
Monsanto (largest seed and pesticide manufacturer in the world)
In 2013 fiscal year Monsanto’s net sales were $14,861,000,000. Net profits were $7,653,000,000. That’s a gross profit of 51%! They reported a net income of $2,482,000,000 after research and development and other expenses. Research and Development costs will later on be more fully explored. At face value, according to their own site, www.monsanto.com, that’s about 17% profits-not a bad return!
This corporation has its fingers in many pies, including healthcare/Big-Pharma. For the purpose of this book, DuPont will be placed among the Big-Agri companies. Some of their biggest selling products are herbicides/insecticides and GMO seeds. Their agriculture products division had an outstanding 2013-9.9 billion in sales, primarily through their GMO corn seeds. Seven million acres planted their corn in 2013 compared to two million acres using the seeds in 2012.
Their main products are herbicides/insecticides and GMO seeds. Dow-AgroSciences is a subsidiary of Dow-Chemical. Their gross sales in 2012 was $6,400,000,000. A little interesting trivia found on their own website shows that Dow AgroSciences was originally called DowElanco and then joined with Dow Chemical and Elanco Plant Sciences. Why is this important? Because Elanco Plant Sciences is part of Eli Lilly, one of the Big-Pharma mammoths earlier mentioned. Big Agri and Big Pharma are constantly overlapping.
This global corporation’s main products are herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and GMO seeds including flowers. In 2012 they grossed 14,202,000,000 in sales with $6,984,000,000 in gross profits. $2,292,000,000 was left over after operating expenses. Syngenta is still a young company. According to their website, they offered to invest one half of a billion dollars in Africa at the 2012 G8 Summit. Humanitarian or smart business? Syngenta projects that they will sell 25 billion dollars in sales by 2020.
Throughout this book I will present the facts and cite sources. Some sources will be hyperlinked and other sources will be mentioned on the bibliography page of the book. The conspiracy angle is yours to agree or disagree with. At the very least, you will hopefully have a different perspective on this very important subject.
Chapter One: Codex Alimentarius
Chapter Two: FDA and USDA: Puppets or Protectors?
Chapter Three: What is a GMO?
Chapter Four: Most Harmful Chemicals in Food
Chapter Five: Organics
Chapter Six: Natural Remedies
Chapter Seven: The Rise of Anti-Depressants
Chapter Eight: ADD/ADHD: Is it a Real Disorder?
Chapter Nine: Why Are Medical Bills and Drugs so High?
Chapter Ten: Black Box Drugs
Chapter Eleven: Vaccines: Prevention or Profit?