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We love are drugs, legal and illegal, it's so much easier than changing our bad habits ;)

I'm guessing alcohol and coffee have more sales than the biggest drugs above. 

And now I wonder if marijuana can get there too. 

I think marijuana has already been a huge part of the economy, it's just switching to the legal side now ;)

I hope nothing--especially government tinkering--causes any of those companies to reduce their R&D budgets.  Instead of research cost per drug, they should list number of lives saved/or made better.  

Greg, that's a good point. Costs tell us very little about the benefits!

And Janill, I'm curious to know how big. Bigger than the biggest drug named here?

Maybe, if we could get 100% of sales to be legal, and transparent, we could get an accurate accounting.  We would have to beat Abilify at 4.6 billion?

Per this 2010 CNBC article

Economists, reformists, law enforcement authorities and the pro-marijuana lobby, however, have come up with a variety of estimates. Put them all together and you get a range of $10 billion to over $120 billion a year. Such a wide spread is hardly a solid answer.

So it should easily be the biggest drug in America.

Wow. Bigger than coffee! And yeah, I was thinking beat Abilify.

About "government tinkering":

Why Does Big Pharma Spend So Much?

Some caveats, though: drug companies have tax incentives to count costs in research and development, which could inflate the figure; they also are likely to spend extra money in order to get those medicines approved in other countries. Even more important is the fact that some R&D costs come from monitoring the safety of medicines after they become hits to monitor reports of side effects. “Our safety infrastructure is close to 1,000 people,” says Paul Stoffels, the co-chairman of pharmaceuticals at Johnson & Johnson, which had the most new drugs approved and spent $5.2 billion per drug. “That is a whole biotech company and it is also part of our R&D budgets.”

So they spend a lot to deal with the government regulations that are trying to protect people?

Here is a very interesting story, that can be watched online, about deadly viruses, and drug companies.

Frontline:  Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria

I'm bookmarking this to watch later. Looks fascinating.

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