Motive: Make no mistake, the pharmaceutical industry is in business for the same reason that any other business is in business: to make money. Large pharmaceutical companies have boards of directors, stockholders, and very large payrolls like any other large corporation and they are required to meet these obligations and provide value to their stockholders. Having said that, they make their money by improving human life through research and development, manufacturing, and sales of their products. Character: And while they are not charities, they often contribute much charitable giving to poorer areas of the planet by donating products or selling them below cost.
The pharmaceutical industry can be easy to demonize since they sell life sustaining products for profit. But you must realize that it takes an inordinate amount of money to successfully bring a new drug to market, often totalling in the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a decade or more. And the rules and regulations are quite strict so there is no guarantee of success. For every new drug that makes it to market there are several that ultimately do not. So you have to pay for not only the actual drug you are buying but also the costly failures along the way. And even those drugs that do end up making money have a limited timeframe of patent protection. Once a drug loses its patent protection and becomes generic, it very quickly loses its profit margin for the company that discovered it.