How do your company’s financials compare to those of pharma giants like Pfizer, Merck, and Bristol Myers Squibb?

This is part of a series benchmarking various financial metrics across large companies in different industries.

To some, World War I is known as the chemist’s war. The chemists’ influence on warfare started in July 1917, when some troops based in Belgium reported a shimmering cloud around their feet and a strange peppery smell in the air. Within a day, they were itching uncontrollably, developing blisters, and coughing up blood. Within six weeks, nearly 10,000 were dead.

Mustard gas--which is what they’d been poisoned with--had been enthusiastically peddled by its inventor Fritz Haber (yup, the same one that also won a Nobel prize) even after the war. So twenty years later, with World War II on the horizon, Allied Forces scientists quietly started studying mustard gas again, hoping to find a way to fight against it on the battlefield.

Diving into medical records, two Yale doctors noticed that the majority of soldiers affected by mustard gas had an unusually low number of white blood cells. So they hypothesized that if mustard gas could destroy normal white blood cells, it could also destroy cancerous ones, like the ones that cause leukemia or lymphoma.

After successful animal trials and a human trial with a man known only as J.D., the mustard gas discovery led to what we now know as chemotherapy, specifically nitrogen-mustard derived chemo that is still in use today.

There are a lot of interesting (if unhappy) stories about how drugs have been discovered.

But if we’re being honest, most of them came out of the brute force of staring down a microscope or running simulation after simulation day after long day inside the white walls of a laboratory.

And then you start to wonder--on average, how many microscope-hours is every new drug taking? What about the number of simulations that takes us to a new pharmaceutical compound?

Looking at the data

Pharma companies spend a lot of money in R&D--more than almost any other industry. And the R&D ratio (R&D compared to revenue) is interesting because it can tell us how invested in new product development one company is compared to another.

Ways to use the data:

  • Explore it interactively with Google Data Studio
  • Download the graph and put into your board deck, marking your company’s R&D ratio with an arrow to show how you compare
  • Download the data from idaciti and analyze it in whatever tool you prefer
  • Find a few takeaways from the data and write them as callouts to use as bullet points in a presentation or as a header for a graph

Data in this post is found in this idaciti card. Download the data by “flipping” the card by clicking on the 🔁 icon in the top right-hand corner. In the graph view, you can see data for other top 20 companies by clicking on the filter. In the data download view, you can also see more details by clicking on the data points.

Learn more about how companies use idaciti for financial data and analysis.