Greed! Monopoly! Regulation! These are fun words to say.
The weird thing is, pharmaceutical companies don't make money consistently more than car companies, food companies, electronics companies, software companies, or any other kind of company. They simply aren't making the ton of money we'd like to complain about. This makes sense, because if drug research, development, and production DID make more money than doing something else, then Apple, Google, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Jeff Bezos would invest their money into new pharmaceutical companies, so that they would make a ton more money. Those new companies would be competition for the old, tending to reduce prices.
In fact, when you think about who has a billion dollars to invest, who makes a ton of money, the big names that make crazy money are Apple, Google, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Jeff Bezos - it's the computer technology people making crazy money. *We* are the greedy bastards.
* Like some technology companies, drug companies have bad years, when they spend $2 billion on R&D and nothing gets approved, and good years when they have a hit. Over time, their total returns are similar to other industries with similar volatility, and risk-adjusted returns are inline with the overall economy.
5-year quarterly profit margin average (all from ycharts):
Oracle: 26.72% https://ycharts.com/companies/ORCL/profit_margin
Google: 22.87% https://ycharts.com/companies/GOOG/profit_margin
Apple: 22.74% https://ycharts.com/companies/AAPL/profit_margin
Pfizer: 19.73% https://ycharts.com/companies/PFE/profit_margin
Johnson & Johnson: 19.28% https://ycharts.com/companies/JNJ/profit_margin
Mylan: 8.97% https://ycharts.com/companies/MYL/profit_margin
Pharma average 18% http://www.bbc.com/news/business-28212223
So even if you cherry-pick the famous tech winners, the companies banking the most cash in tech, pharma looks pretty damn profitable. And remember, unlike tech companies, pharma companies are sitting, more and more, on old products that are patent protected or just don't have approved generics, and there is a trend of these products getting more expensive, not less.
OK, so now that we've countered the implicit argument that tech profit margins are insanely higher than pharma margins, let's look at all the misguided wrapper logic...
1. By this argument, Google and Apple should go into real estate, which has truly insane profit margins. But in the real world, people and businesses in one industry vertical generally do not just suddenly switch industries just because something else is more profitable. There are a few exceptions of big companies mostly pulling this off, like GE becoming primarily a financial services company, but people and organizations generally stick to what they know, and have massive institutional inertia generated primarily by middle management. Having spent over 20 years trying to get non-tech companies to act more like tech companies with minimal success, I know this from experience as well as third-party anecdote.
2. Yes, pharma profits go up and down with R&D, market conditions, and competition. Tech profits also go up and down with R&D, market, and competition. Just look at the quarterly results of any of the tech companies you cite, and compare with any pharma company. Both are R&D plays. Pharma patents offer stronger practical protection than in tech, so it should be more stable over time, as borne out when you compare the patent-holding winners in pharma to the companies that never have a hit drug. Historically, over the last 30 years, profit margins in pharma have strengthened, not gone in neutral cycles: http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/average-profit-margin-pharmaceuticals-20671.html
3. In the real world, the specific tech companies and people you cite are actually going big in healthcare:
Google is huge in health care and pharma:
Apple is also moving into health in a big way, on the management side, although it doesn't actually have a pharma spin-off like Google.
Forbes asks the question: Apple, Google are jumping into healthcare, is Amazon next? http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2014/08/22/apple-google-are-jumping-into-health-care-is-amazon-next/#174fc1c62fc8
Actually bother to do some googling about the people you mention. Larry Ellison and Bill Gates are, notoriously, two of the biggest healthcare investors in the world, but not for profit. They don't only care about making money. In the case of Larry, he wants to live forever. Bill genuinely wants to help The People. To add to your name dropping, Zuckerberg is also going big in healthcare philanthropy. All these rich people realize one thing: the profit-driven part of the healthcare industry isn't going to get the job done for either immortal lich-lords or poor people, so they better focus their donations on this sector. It can't all be Viagra and expensive treatments rather than cures for chronic diseases.
4. But why aren't there super-rich pharma founders, i.e. Bill Gates of pharma?
Only 6 of the 20 richest people in the world get their money from tech... still impressive given the newness of tech fortunes. None from medical (unless you count booze). However, all that says is that there aren't any ancient med family fortunes or rapidly emerging medical startups with 50% equity founders, because medical is an investment-heavy vertical and founders get diluted at a far higher rate than tech. However, the highest paid CEO is at a pharma firm, Valeant. Closer to home for this thread, The Mylan CEO's pay rose 400% during the EpiPen price hike, providing evidence that pharma execs get rewarded for exploiting their de facto monopolies. There are so many headlines about pharma CEOs literally laughing from on top of their giant piles of ill-gotten gains you may have become jaded and stopped noticing them.
5. The sensible take on this story:
What makes EpiPen a story is that pharma companies are providing (and ostentatiously claiming to provide) a social good infrastructure service while profiting directly from the people who can least afford it, weaponizing regulatory forces in favor of even higher profits, and swatting down unfavorable, pro-consumer regulations.
Rather than making a ludicrous argument that lack of tech czar investment proves pharma companies aren't screwing people, you should note that open source hacker culture is attempting to provide an alternative, proving that profit is not the only motive for creating social good. Scruffy hackers, Larry, Bill, and Zuck all agree (for somewhat different reasons) that we need to put profits aside to save the world/ascend to the mothership.
Or, if you prefer a Silicon Valley tech-bro libertarian perspective, I have one just word for you: DISRUPT! Google and Apple and the zillions of other health-tech companies, startup and otherwise, know a fat, bloated, ripe-for-disruption industry when they see it! Those $159 Airpod 2s are looking mighty cheap as a replacement for a $3000 hearing aid! From a tech perspective, medical company profits ARE too high, because they aren't driving down costs AND profits to zero-to-negative in massive scale plays based off free cash flow. Hell, they're actually raising retail prices on old products that aren't even patent protected any more! WTF? Are we going to let them get away with that? Google is so obviously gonna cut those direct consumer sale pharma profits to NEGATIVE and monetize on the back end off personal data for add targeting and shit while their AIs create AND approve new drugs every week. Plus there's a whole chunk of the industry - insurance, billing offices, insurance company CEO hooker love nests, etc. - that completely goes away just by restructuring to single-payer health care from multi-payer health insurance. How's that for a disruption opportunity?