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The 10 Richest Americans in Medicine


Many entrepreneurs and physicians (and their descendants) owe their fortunes to the life-sciences and healthcare industries. Here are the top 10 who made Forbes magazine's "Top 400 Richest Americans" list this year.

All doctors are rich, right? That's a view shared by most Americans -- though a wide swath of primary care physicians would likely beg to differ.

Still, a number of entrepreneurs and physicians (and their descendants) owe their considerable fortunes to the life-sciences and healthcare industries. Ten of them made Forbes magazine's "Top 400 Richest Americans" list this year:

No. 46) Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD; $5.6 billion

With a calculated worth of more than $5 billion, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is the first Forbes 400 member to claim his fortune from the healthcare industry. More specifically, Soon-Shiong has made his money from drugs; his shares of Abraxis BioScience Inc. nearly doubled in the last year, in large part because of its sale to Celgene Corp. for nearly $3 billion, adding a cool $1.6 billion to his fortune. Soon-Shiong has already pledged half of that windfall to the Gates/Buffett initiative The Giving Pledge, which funds programs that combat disease and poverty.

No. 85) Thomas Frist, MD; $3.6 billion

HCA Healthcare Inc. is a hospital giant that aims to go public for the third time, meaning that the value of the 160-hospital chain should be around $40 billion. Frist is a former Air Force flight surgeon who started HCA in 1968 with his father; now, he and his sons run the company.

No. 101) William Cook; $3.1 billion

Founder of the medical-device company Cook Group Inc., William Cook has made a fortune from two very important and ubiquitous devices: stents and catheters. Forbes mentions that the “bright spot” for Cook this year was a new catheter for intensive-care units that is juiced with antibiotics to prevent infections. We’ll see if it’s successful enough for Cook to crack the Top 100 next year.

No. 124) Barbara Piasecka Johnson; $2.8 billion

Johnson’s fortune came by means of an inheritance from her husband John Seward Johnson, who himself inherited a little company of his own called Johnson & Johnson (maybe you’ve heard of it?). The inherited shares of the company are valued at over $4 billion. Part of Piasecka Johnson’s fortune is tied up in developing Children’s Bay Cay, a private residential complex in the Bahamas, but she also uses her vast wealth to support Art for Autism, and has received several awards for her humanitarian and education projects worldwide.

No. 170) Ronda Stryker; $2.1 billion

Stryker owes her wealth to the inheritance from her father’s medical-device company, which made its name on mobile hospital beds. She is the last remaining Stryker on the company’s board of directors. Stryker also has been known to donate and to and fund numerous educational initiatives and programs, which is no surprise considering she is a former special-education teacher. Stryker’s the highest on the Forbes 400 list to claim her fortune from the Stryker Corp., but she isn’t the only one: her sister Pat comes in at No. 308 ($1.3 billion); her brother Jon comes in at No. 332 ($1.2 billion); and Stryker Chief Executive John Brown makes the list at No. 385 ($1 billion).

No. 182) Philip Frost; $2 billion

A self-made billionaire, Frost is a former dermatologist who sold his drug-manufacturing company Ivax to Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. for a cool $7.6 billion in 2005. He still holds a large portion of stock in Teva and has his hand in several medical startups. Frost and his wife are huge endorsers of the arts and donate millions of dollars to art programs each year.

No. 205) Michael Jaharis; $1.9 billion

president and Chief Executive of Key Pharmaceuticals Inc., which was later acquired by Schering-Plough Corp. in 1986 for

Jaharis founded Kos Pharmaceuticals Inc., maker of the cholesterol-battling drug Niaspan. He sold Kos in 2006 to Abbott Laboratories for $3.7 billion. Prior to starting Kos, he was $587 million, according to the New York Times. Jaharis is a major supporter of Columbia University Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Tufts University’s School of Medicine.

No. 238) Randall Kirk; $1.7 billion

Kirk entered the billionaires club after selling New River Pharmaceutical to Shire PLC in 2007 for $2.6 billion. He earned $1.2 billion on the sale. Kirk's now got his eye on "synthetic biology," investing in startups such as Intrexon Corp.

No. 290) Gary Michelson, MD; $1.4 billion

Michelson’s wealth originated from a record $1.35 billion settlement between Medtronic Inc. and himself over spinal surgery patents. Afterward, Michelson turned his attention to philanthropy, focusing on animal welfare issues. He launched the Found Animals Foundation, which focuses on dogs, cats and problem of overfilled shelters. The foundation’s $75 million Michelson Prize & Grants program rewards innovation in non-surgical pet sterilization, including a $25 million award for the scientist who creates the first injectable sterilant.

No. 308) Pat Stryker; $1.3 billion

Like her sister Rhonda, Pat owes her wealth to inheritance. Her grandfather, surgeon Homer Stryker, invented mobile hospital beds and founded medical-device company, Stryker Corp. in 1941. Pat is best known for funding Democratic candidates in Colorado politics, where the press calls her one of the "Gang of Four." (Rutt Bridges, Tim Gill and Jared Polis make up the rest of the gang.) She’s also a wine enthusiast, and her vineyard Stryker Sonoma produces about 7,000 cases a year.

Click here to check out the rest of the list.

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