14 Billionaires Who Earned Their Riches In Healthcare


 
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By Amanda D'Ambrosio

Fourteen of the richest people in the U.S. made their money in healthcare, according to the Forbes 400, which ranks the wealthiest Americans.

The billionaires -- who made their fortunes in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, or medical devices -- were worth more than $66 billion in 2020, a fraction of the $32 trillion fortune of all 400 people on the list.

Four of those 14 actually have ties to just one healthcare company -- the medical equipment maker, Stryker.

Healthcare industry elites make up 3.5% of the nation's wealthiest class, compared to 18.5% in the tech industry. Yet it's not the lowest-ranking industry: just one billionaire made his fortune in telecommunications.

Here are the 14 U.S. billionaires who made their fortunes in healthcare, listed by rank:

#42, Thomas Frist Jr., MD

Net Worth: $11.6 billion

Thomas Frist Jr., 82, a former Air Force flight surgeon, founded Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) with his father Thomas Frist Sr. in 1968. HCA Healthcare raked in $51.3 billion in 2019, and is the largest for-profit healthcare chain in the U.S. with facilities in 21 states and in Great Britain. Bill Frist, MD, former Senate majority leader, is Thomas Frist's brother.

#45, Carl Cook

Net Worth: $10.5 billion

Carl Cook is the CEO of Cook Medical Group, a company that manufactures minimally invasive medical devices (including an inferior vena cava filter that was involved in more than 5,000 Indiana lawsuits in recent years). The CEO, who has famously kept a low profile, worked in engineering on several medical devices before stepping into leadership at the company. Cook, now 58, became head honcho after his father, William Cook, died in April 2011.

#91, Reinhold Schmieding

Net Worth: $6.7 billion

Reinhold Schmieding, 65, is the founder and CEO of Arthrex, a medical device company that manufactures orthopedic surgical tools. He created the company in Munich in 1981, and moved its headquarters to Naples, Florida, in the early 1990s. Schmieding owns more than 90% of the company, which has an estimated $2.1 billion in annual revenues, and has manufactured more than 13,000 medical products used in shoulder, hip, and other orthopedic surgeries.

#91, Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD

Net Worth: $6.7 billion

Tied for the 91st spot on the list is Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, who made his fortune with protein-bound paclitaxel (Abraxane), approved for lung, pancreas, and breast cancers. The surgeon and entrepreneur previously served as the founder, CEO, and chairman of two global pharmaceutical companies: American Pharmaceutical Partners and Abraxis BioScience. In 2011, Soon-Shiong founded the global healthcare technology company, NantWorks. He also owns the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and a small portion of the Los Angeles Lakers.

#110, Ronda Stryker

Net Worth: $5.6 billion

Ronda Stryker is the Vice Chair of Stryker Corporation, a medical equipment company that offers technologies ranging from orthopedic and spinal implants to surgical navigation systems, and even hospital beds. The corporation had $14.9 billion in sales in 2019, according to Forbes, and made four of the healthcare billionaires on this list. Stryker is the granddaughter of the company founder and orthopedic surgeon, Homer Stryker, and is currently the largest individual shareholder. She also serves as a director of Greenleaf Trust, a Michigan-based bank.

#170, John Brown

Net Worth: $4.3 billion

John Brown, 82, is the former CEO of Stryker Corporation. He ran the company for 32 years, and is credited with boosting the company's valuation significantly during his tenure. Brown stepped down as CEO in 2009, and now serves as the chairman emeritus and owns slightly more than 5% of the company. He previously sat on the board of St. Jude Medical Center.

#222, Jon Stryker

Net Worth: $3.6 billion

Jon Stryker, 62, also earned his status from the Stryker Corporation, along with his two siblings and John Brown. Stryker, a grandson of the company founder, inherited a stake of the company but does not hold an executive position. He is the president and founder of the Arcus Foundation, an organization that supports advancing LGBTQ rights and promotes conservation of great apes.

#278, Osman Kibar, PhD

Net Worth: $3 billion

Osman Kibar is the CEO and founder of Samumed, a San Diego-based biotechnology company that manufactures anti-aging products. The biotech firm -- which was previously valued at $12 billion -- is the third company Kibar has started. As a doctoral student he created two startups, one of which was a cancer diagnostics company that Novartis bought for $470 million in 2011. Kibar founded Samumed in a Pfizer incubator, but now the company operates independently, with investors including Ikea's private venture arm. Samumed's products focus on the WNT pathway, and it currently has products in late-stage clinical trials to treat knee osteoarthritis and androgenetic alopecia.

#339, Phillip Frost

Net Worth: $2.5 billion

Phillip Frost, 83, runs the diagnostics-maker Opko Health. Frost first joined Key Pharmaceuticals in 1972. Fourteen years later, after reformulating its asthma drug, he sold the company for $836 million. Frost also founded generic drugmaker Ivax, which was sold to Teva Pharmaceuticals for $7.6 billion in 2005. He served as the CEO of Teva from 2010 to 2014. Most recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Frost for his involvement in a "pump-and-dump" scheme, in which he allegedly manipulated other companies' stock prices.

#339, Leonard Schleifer, MD, PhD

Net Worth: $2.5 billion

Leonard Schleifer is the CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Regeneron manufactured a blockbuster drug to treat "wet" macular degeneration, aflibercept (Eylea), which reached $4.6 billion in U.S. sales in 2019. Schleifer, a board-certified physician in neurology, founded Regeneron in 1988 and owns about 4% of the company. The doctor took a 20% pay cut in 2019 when his salary dropped from $26.52 million to $21.46 million, according to FiercePharma. Regeneron is in the process of creating a monoclonal antibody cocktail to treat COVID-19.

#339, Pat Stryker

Net Worth: $2.5 billion

Pat Stryker is the last of the three sibling heirs to the Stryker Corporation fortune on this list. A philanthropist and founder of the Bohemian Foundation, Stryker is one of the five richest people in Colorado. While she inherited the company that her grandfather founded, she does not hold an executive position.

#359, Stewart Rahr

Net Worth: $2.3 billion

Stewart Rahr was the president and CEO of Kinray, a pharmaceutical distributor founded by his father. After expanding the company, Rahr sold Kinray to Cardinal Health for $1.3 billion. The billionaire, who has referred to himself as "Stewie Rah Rah, the No. 1 king of all fun," is also a longtime friend and customer of President Donald Trump. Before the current president took office, he reportedly hired Rahr as a fake bidder at an art auction -- to ensure a portrait of the president was sold at the highest price, according to Forbes.

#378, Robert Duggan

Net Worth: $2.2 billion

Robert Duggan is a "serial investor" who made headlines after selling his biotechnology company, Pharmacyclics, to AbbVie for $3.5 billion in 2015. Pharmacyclics developed ibrutinib (Imbruvica), now approved for several hematologic malignancies, which made Duggan a billionaire in 2013. In February 2020, Duggan was named the CEO and executive chairman of Summit Therapeutics, a British biotechnology company.

#378, Alice Schwartz

Net Worth: $2.2 billion

Alice Schwartz launched Bio-Rad Laboratories in 1952, along with her husband David. The couple reportedly started the company with only $720 in their savings account. Now, Bio-Rad Laboratories sells more than 10,000 life science research and clinical diagnostics products, and its 2018 revenues totaled $2.3 billion. Schwartz, 92, is the oldest, richest woman on the U.S. list reported by Forbes.

 
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