Like a revolving door, the list of the richest men in the field of medicine constantly moves and changes. Times change and so do fortunes. Here is a rundown of the 10 wealthiest people in the heath care industry today. The list ranges from professionals and business tycoons with stakes in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry.
10. Neal Patterson – $1.12 billion
The 62-year old Neal Patterson, along with two other colleagues, were the pioneers of Cerner Corporation, which produces hospital laboratory management systems. It was founded in 1979 and went public in 1986. As the Chairman, CEO and President of Cerner Corporation, he leads the company to innovations and other medical advances. From their $2.2 billion in sales, Cerner Corporation made a net income of $307 million in 2011. The company’s success has landed Patterson a spot on the Forbes 400 for the first time. He got his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Oklahoma State University.
9. John Brown – $1.2 billion
After Lee Stryker died in 1976, John Brown became the chief executive of Stryker Corporation. For 32 years as the president and CEO, Brown transformed Stryker from a $17 million hospital bed maker into a leading global medical technology company. The company earned $8.3 billion in revenues in 2011. Brown retired in December 2009, and now serves as chairman emeritus. He is ranked 360th in the Forbes billionaires list and acquired his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Auburn University.
8. Gary Michelson – $1.4 billion
The 63-year old Gary Michelson is credited for having more than 250 U.S. patents on orthopedic instruments, methods, and devices. He received a $1.35 billion settlement from Medtronic, a medical device company, over the use of his spinal surgery patents in 2005. Using the settlement for the welfare of animals, he established the Found Animals Foundation to help several pet shelters. The $25 million Michelson Prize was named after him in 2008 and awarded to the scientist who invented an injectable sterilant for pets. He even donated $50 million to assist in the research. He had his MD from Hahnemann Medical College and got his bachelor’s degree from Temple University.
7. Judy Faulkner – $1.5 billion
As a computer scientist, Judy Faulkner founded an electronic health records company called Epic Systems. In 2011, the fast growing company earned revenues amounting to $1.2 billion. Through the help of her company, the government is aiming for more than 40 percent of the U.S. population to have their medical information stored digitally. The 68-year old Faulkner is the 285th richest according to the Forbes list. She got her bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College and her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin.
6. Randall Kirk – $2.4 billion
Randall Kirk co-founded his first pharmaceutical firm, the General Injectables & Vaccines, in 1984. He sold the company in 1998. He also co-founded King Pharmaceuticals in 1993, founded New River Pharmaceuticals in 1996, and many others. He sold his company New River Pharmaceuticals in 2007 for $2.6 billion. Then in 2011, he liquidated his drug company called Clinical Data for $1.2 billion. Currently, he is focused on a biotech start-up, Intrexon, a synthetic biology-based company that uses genetic engineering to better control the function and output of living cells. He is ranked 190th in the Forbes list and got his JD from the University of Virginia.
5. Phillip Frost – $2.4 billion
As a dermatology professor, Frost took control of the Key Pharmaceuticals with Michael Jaharis, his well-trusted partner, to develop veterinary products and generic pharmaceuticals. Frost founded Ivax after selling the company in 1986. In 2005, he sold it for $7.6 billion. Today, he is the chairman of Teva Pharmaceuticals, the largest producer of generic pharmaceuticals in the country. Frost is an active trader and hold stakes in several companies such as SafeStitch, a medical device company. He also acquired a 45% stake in Opko Health, a well-known Israeli company that produces vaccines. He obtained his master’s degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
4. Ronda Stryker – $2.5 billion
Before Homer Stryker founded Stryker Corporation in 1941, he was an orthopedic surgeon who started making medical devices to meet his patient’s needs. Stryker is now a global leader in the medical technology industry specializing in making replacement joints, and other devices. Ronda Stryker is the founder’s granddaughter, and is the director and the largest shareholder of Stryker Corp. Pat and John Stryker, Ronda’s siblings, are also on the list ranking at 328 and 360. She is the only member of the family still active in the company. She got her master’s degree from Western Michigan University.
3. Gayle Cook – $3.7 billion
Gayle Cook and William Cook co-founded a medical device company called the Cook Group Incorporated in 1963. Using a spare bedroom in their apartment as their first factory, they began building wire guides, needles, and catheters. Now, Cook Group has offices from the U.S., Europe, and around the Pacific Rim, and is expanding throughout Asia. Their business is focused in producing antibiotic catheters and stents. The company recently launched a new arm focusing on cell and tissue processing and cryopreservation technologies. After the death of Gayle’s husband in 2011, she inherited his stake in the company and currently serves the board.
2. Thomas Frist Jr. & family – $4 billion
During the 1960’s, Thomas Frist Sr. thought of establishing a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Disappointed for not finding a group that can manage the hospital, father and son started the Hospital Corporation of America in 1968. Frist Jr. remains the biggest shareholder in this hospital giant. The company had revenues of $29.7 billion in 2011. The Frist family now has a new company that is building a hospital together with the Chinese government, and has contracts to acquire two more hospitals. Frist, Jr. is currently ranked 92nd in the Forbes billionaires list.
1. Patrick Soon-Shiong – $7.3 billion
Soon-Shiong has an MD from the University of Witwatersrand, a Master’s degree in science from the University of British Columbia, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Witwatersrand. He is the founder of Abraxis Bioscience and American Pharma Partners. He sold the latter in 2008 for $5.6 billion, and the former for $2.9 billion in 2010. Soon-Shiong is now working on bringing digital revolution to health care, commerce, and digital entertainment through a company he founded and called NantWorks. He is ranked 47th richest in the Forbes list.
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