Mitos farmacéuticos

Las compañías farmacéuticas nos quieren hacer creer que los elevados precios de los medicamentos bajo receta médica son necesarios para cubrir sus costos de Investigación y desarrollo (I y D), afirmación que implica que gastan la mayor parte de su dinero en este concepto y que, después de pagarlo, les quedan sólo modestas utilidades. Según ellas, bajar los precios asfixiaría la I y D y sofocaría la innovación. Sin embargo, la historia real es muy diferente.

En realidad, las grandes farmacéuticas gastan relativamente poco en I y D, mucho menos de lo que gastan en mercadeo y administración, e incluso menos de lo que les queda como utilidades. Por ejemplo, en 2002 las principales diez compañías farmacéuticas estadounidenses tuvieron ventas por 217 mil millones de dólares. Según sus propias cifras, gastaron en I y D un 14% de los ingresos por ventas. No obstante, gastaron más de dos veces esa suma (un enorme 31%) en mercadeo y administración. Y, aún así, obtuvieron un 17% de utilidades.

La mayoría de las farmacéuticas juntan mercadeo y administración en sus reportes anuales, pero una informó que el 85% del total se destinó a mercadeo. Suponiendo que esta cifra es más o menos igual para las otras grandes compañías (y hay razones para pensar que es así), gastaron sólo en mercadeo casi dos veces la suma destinada a I y D.

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