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Big Pharma, Big Salaries

Posted on July 21, 2010

We know the pharmaceutical industry is profitable. Very profitable.

FiercePharma takes a look at the biggest CEO salaries in Big Pharma. Following a mega-merger in 2009, Fred Hassan’s salary was bumped into first place. Formerly of Schering-Plough, Hassan made close to $50 million last year as the highest paid pharmaceutical CEO.

Novartis’; Daniel Vasella moved to the number four spot, up three places. But we won’t see him next year. Vasella stepped down as CEO of Novartis in January.

Why should we care? A good deal of wealth is built on the backs of company employees who lost their jobs during mergers. Research, development, and high salaries all keep the prices of essential drugs artificially high and out of reach of the average American, especially someone without insurance. Ultimately, we all pay in increased hospitalizations for those who go without medications. The high cost of medication and health care is one factor that is also driving home foreclosures.

Americans spent about $251.8 billion on prescription drugs in 2005, accounting for nearly 42% of global pharmaceutical sales. In the last decade the wholesale price of more than 150 popular brand name drugs rose an average of 35%. This is an escalation that is unsustainable.