Die Arzneimittelhersteller möchten uns glauben machen, die in die Höhe schießenden Kosten für Medikamente seinen nötig, um ihre Forschungs- und Entwicklungskosten zu decken. Diese Behauptung suggeriert, dass die Unternehmen den größten Teil ihres Geldes für Forschung und Entwicklung ausgeben, und dass dann nur ein bescheidener Gewinn übrig bleibt. Preisbegrenzungen, so wird behauptet, würde die Forschungs- und Entwicklungsarbeit abwürgen und Innovationen verhindern. Die Wirklichkeit sieht anders aus.

Tatsächlich geben die großen Pharmaunternehmen relativ wenig für Forschung und Entwicklung aus – viel weniger als für Marketing und Verwaltung und sogar weniger als das, was als Gewinn übrig bleibt. Im Jahre 2002 etwa erzielten die zehn führenden amerikanischen Arzneimittelunternehmen Umsätze von 217 Milliarden Dollar. Nach eigenen Angaben gaben sie davon 14 Prozent für Forschung und Entwicklung aus, aber mehr als zweimal so viel – kolossale 31 Prozent – für Marketing und Verwaltung, und es blieben ihnen 17 Prozent als Gewinn übrig.

Die meisten Arzneimittelhersteller weisen Marketing und Verwaltung in ihren Jahresberichten als einen Posten aus; ein Unternehmen jedoch gab an, dass 85 Prozent dieser Summe auf das Marketing entfiele. Geht man davon aus, dass diese Zahl im Großen und Ganzen auch für die anderen großen Unternehmen repräsentativ ist – und die Annahme ist begründet – dann haben die Unternehmen in diesem Jahr allein für Marketing nahezu doppelt soviel ausgegeben wie für Forschung und Entwicklung.

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