These Americans Are Rich – Should We Celebrate?

Expensive medicineAmerican manufacturing has declined precipitously in the past few decades. Companies that were once the source of fabulous wealth for Americans – the U.S. Steel profits that enriched the Carnegie family, the Ford Motor F -1.29% Company profits that enriched its eponymous family – are now struggling to keep up with foreign competitors.

Thank God for American pharmaceutical companies, which are a rare source of wealth in United States. The CEO of Eli Lilly , John Lechleiter, made $11.2 million in take-home pay in 2013. That was dwarfed by the $18.1 million pay package of Richard Gonzalez of AbbVie ABBV +0.24%, which still couldn’t compete with the $20.5 million that Miles White made running AbbVie’s former parent company, Abbott. And Pharma isn’t just a source of hefty c-suite income. Senior chemists at pharmaceutical companies bring in a median salary of $76,000 while senior biostatisticians make around $135,000. Drive through beautiful suburban neighborhoods in Jersey, Indianapolis, and Raleigh-Durham, and you are witnessing the benefits of this thriving industry.

I’m really glad the American pharmaceutical industry is a success. So why did a recent conversation I had with a retired pharmaceutical executive end with him storming away after proclaiming: “I’m sure glad you’re not a member of Congress!”?

Let me explain. (To read the rest of this article, please visit Forbes.)

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