Top 10 World’s Largest Pharmaceutical Companies 2018

The pharmaceutical industry is an extremely lucrative one, with intense competition and few major players competing for the lion’s share. Over the decades, it has grown multiple times over given the global need for drugs and medicines. Billions of dollars are spent annually on pharmaceuticals because of how research-driven the industry is. The industry was estimated to be worth $1.11 trillion at the end of 2017, and is expected to increase to $1.43 trillion by 2020 (Source). Year after year, increasing number of new drugs are approved and enter the industry, adding to its augmenting size and large-scale demand. A significant part of the market share is captured by American pharma companies; however, Asian, European, and South American counterparts have also begun to emerge. As per reports of 2018’s first quarter, the following is a list of the world’s top 10 largest pharmaceutical companies:

10. Amgen

Amgen is a pharmaceutical company that is based in California, United States of America. It currently is worth $22.85 billion and has been in operation for almost four decades. It’s most sold product is a pair of similar drugs called Neulast and Neupogen, which are administered to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Amgen was formerly called Applied Molecular Genetics and specialized in biochemistry and molecular biology. In 2017-2018, Amgen witnessed an unprecedented increase in sales which enabled its valuation to shoot up significantly. Fortune Magazine also called Amgen one of the most admired companies in its industry, in 2018.


9. GlaxoSmithKline

GlaxoSmithKline has consecutively been on the top ten list of pharmaceutical companies on an annual basis. It has its headquarters in Londan, England, and is valued at $24 billion. GlaxoSmithKline is one of the largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange and is also listed secondarily on the New York Stock Exchange. The pharmaceutical giant has enjoyed a strong sales growth annually due to its HIV drugs – Trivicay and Triumeq, among various others. With multiple drug approvals in 2017, the future looks bright for GSK as it adds new drugs to its arsenal.

8. Gilead Sciences

Another pharmaceutical company based in California, Gilead Sciences focus its research and development on the lines of HIV/AIDS drugs. Gilead Sciences is valued at $25.62 billion and has grown over the years by expanding its product base to other segments. Besides HIV/AIDs, it also moved into the fields of oncology, virology, and respiratory drugs. A comparatively younger company, Gilead Sciences through its groundbreaking research has persistently grown its way towards the top.

7. Abbvie

As compared to other companies on this list, Abbvie is a rather young pharmaceutical company that was founded quite recently in 2013. It came into existence as a spin-off of American health care giant, Abbot Laboratories. Abbvie, in its short life span, has shown remarkable growth prospects. The company has witness double-digit growth figures, primarily due to its success in its research efforts. Abbvie’s sales have also grown steadily because of its widely sold cancer drug, Imbruvica, and bestselling drug Humira. Morever, Abbvie also received approval from the FDA for one its therapy based drugs which is believed to show great promise once it goes into manufacture.

6. Novartis

A Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis is valued at $33 billion, way ahead of some of its American competitors. The multinational giant not only outperforms its rivals in terms of sales, but also leads by market capitalization. Novartis’ expertise lies across a broad spectrum of areas, particularly neuroscience, oncology, and respiration. Although sales growth has not been particularly impressive, the company has managed to ensure overall growth and value generation across its divisions and segments. Despite divestitures in the past of its agrochemical branch, the company has stabilized its operations across economies and gradually made its way upwards.

5. Merck & Co.

Another American pharmaceutical company among the big players, Merck & Co. has been in the industry for more than a century. The company is the American subsidiary of its German parent, Merck, and is worth $35.4 billion. A company in the mature stage, Merck & Co.’s growth has been rather slow, but modestly stable. It still rakes in billions of dollars in revenue through the sale of its bestselling diabetes medicines – Januvia and Janument. Besides being a leading manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co. all produces reference books and journals for individuals in the medical profession.

4. Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson is one pharmaceutical giant that has made its mark not only in the pharmaceutical sector but also in the intensely competitive consumer goods sector. It is a Fortune 500 company and is valued at $36.3 billion. Over its life of more than hundred years, Johnson & Johnson has managed to become a household name via its child care product line, bandages, as well as skincare products. The company is based in New Jersey, United States of America, and has expanded its operations to sixty countries. Its pharmaceutical segment has also undergone above satisfactory sales growth primarily due to continuing drug sales and acquisitions of smaller pharmaceutical companies.

3. Sanofi

Coming closer to the giants at the top of the list, Sanofi is a pharmaceutical company that has its headquarters in Paris, France. It came into existence over a decade ago as the result of a merger between two companies – Aventis and Sanofi-Synthelabo, and is currently worth $36.66 billion. The company is primarily involved in the research and innovation areas. However, it does generate a majority of its revenues from pharmaceutical sales. Its top drugs consist of insulin injections for diabetic patients, anticoagulants, and pills that are used to treat sclerosis. Sanofi also happens to be one of the largest manufacturers of vaccines in the world.

2. Roche

Roche is a pharmaceutical behemoth based in Switzerland and primarily specializes in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. The company is worth $44.36 billion and has over ninety thousand employees working for it. A fundamental reason for the company’s immense success is the huge amount of revenue it generates through the sales of its cancer drugs. Roche’s pharmaceutical sector has grown in double digit figures over the past few years. Because of its strong growth prospects, increasing sales, and global reach, Roche has managed to pay increasing dividends annually for three decades.

1. Pfizer

At the very pinnacle of the list of pharmaceutical giants, lies Pfizer. The company is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, and is based in Connecticut, United States of America. It is valued at a whopping $52.54 billion and also features on the New York Stock Exchange and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It manufactures drugs and medicines used in a variety of medical fields, as well as to treat rare diseases. In 2017, Pfizer received approvals for various of its drugs, and its primary products have also witnessed major sales growth. All these factors combined enable Pfizer to remain at the top of the pharmaceutical chain and lead from the front.

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Faraz Rizvi