Mythes pharmaceutiques

Les compagnies pharmaceutiques veulent nous faire croire que la montée en flèche des prix des médicaments est nécessaire pour couvrir leurs coûts de recherche et développement (R&D), argument qui implique qu’elles dépensent la majeure partie de leurs fonds en R&D, et qu’une fois la dépense faite, il ne leur reste qu’un maigre bénéfice. La réduction des prix, disent-ils, étranglerait la R&D et étoufferait l’innovation. La vérité est bien différente.

Les grandes compagnies pharmaceutiques dépensent relativement peu en R&D, bien moins qu’elles ne dépensent en marketing et en gestion et encore moins que ce qu’il leur reste de bénéfices. En 2002, par exemple, les dix plus grosses compagnies pharmaceutiques américaines enregistraient 217 milliards de dollars de ventes. Selon leurs propres chiffres, elles ont dépensé 14 % des revenus des ventes en R&D. Elles ont toutefois dépensé deux fois plus, soit un effarant 31 %, en marketing et gestion. Il leur resta également 17 % de bénéfices.

La plupart des compagnies pharmaceutiques regroupent le marketing et la gestion dans leurs rapports annuels, mais certains montrent parfois que 85 % du total peuvent être attribués au marketing. Si l'on part du principe que ce chiffre est à peu près le même pour la plupart des grosses sociétés, et il y a de fortes raisons d'y croire, elles dépensent donc deux fois plus en marketing seul qu'en R&D.

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