Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

25 biggest pharmaceutical companies and what they make

1/
Piotr Kowalski // Shutterstock

25 biggest pharmaceutical companies and what they make

As controversial as the worldwide pharmaceutical business may be, it is undoubtedly one of the largest industries at the moment. With a value inching towards a $1 trillion figure, the pharmaceutical market is one of the essential instruments on the broader healthcare industry, next to medical equipment and health care services.

These are multinational and multibillion-dollar companies that manufacture prescribed drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vaccines, and consumer products. The largest pharmaceutical companies in the world are responsible for producing and marketing products that treat or alleviate long-term diseases, including but not limited to cancer, diabetes, HIV, and cardiovascular diseases.

After looking at 2019 data from Pharmaceutical Executive magazine, Stacker created this gallery featuring the top 25 pharmaceutical companies based on prescription sales. Stacker's slideshow also includes the percent change in sales from the 2018 Pharmaceutical Executive report and the three top-selling drugs for each of the companies listed. Combined, the top 25 companies on this list sold $580.98 billion worth of pharmaceuticals.

The Pharm Exec's Top 50 Companies 2019 report, uploaded on July 12, 2019, compiled a list of 50 top companies based on their prescription sales and money spent on research and development. The report also ranked companies by the size of their prescription drug sales. The figures were obtained through EvaluatePharma and only account for prescription pharmaceuticals sold in the 2018 fiscal year.

Click through the list to see how many American companies made it on this list.

You may also like: Ranking the reputation of the 100 most visible companies in America

2/
Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland // U.S. Air Force photo

#25. CSL

- Country: Australia
- Prescription sales in 2018: $8.27 billion (10% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $724 million (14.9% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Privigen ($2.29 billion), Hizentra ($942 million), Human albumin ($929 million)

Originally founded as a federal government department in Australia, CSL has stated a mission of protecting people who have been struck by a “range of serious and chronic medical conditions.” CSL touts an emphasis on innovation, with the company focusing on disease and influenza vaccines. The company has several locations around the world, including a new one in Illinois.

3/
PictureDesignSwiss // Shutterstock

#24. Biogen

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $10.89 billion (5.1% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $2.59 billion (15% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Tecfidera ($4.27 billion), Avonex ($1.92 billion), Tysabri ($1.86 billion)

As the name implies, Biogen has a significant stake in the biotechnology industry since its founding in 1978 in Geneva. Biogen grew in size by merging with IDEC Pharmaceuticals in 2003, and since then has acquired several other companies. Currently, the company owes its financial success to a “diverse pipeline of potential new drugs,” according to some analysts.

4/
Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer // U.S. Air Force photo

#23. Astellas Pharma

- Country: Japan
- Prescription sales in 2018: $11.04 billion (1.4% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $1.91 billion (4.1% lower than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Xtandi ($3.00 billion), Prograf ($1.43 billion), Myrbetriq ($1.33 billion)

Originally named Fujisawa Pharmaceutical, this pharmaceutical company changed its name to Astellas Pharma after a number of mergers and worldwide expansion. The company’s research focuses on infectious diseases, diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, oncology, and the central nervous system.

5/
Stock Catalog // Flickr

#22. Mylan

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $11.14 billion (2.7% lower than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $586 million (11.2% lower than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Glatiramer Acetate ($450 million), EpiPen ($246 million), Ethinyl Estradiol; Norelgestromin ($207 million)

West Virginia-based company Mylan offers a number of products, most notably several generic drugs and over-the-counter remedies. Mylan distributed the EpiPen beginning with a 2007 deal but came under fire for the rising costs to buy EpiPen products. Recently, Mylan announced a merger with Pfizer’s patent medicine division, called Upjohn.

6/
Mariusz Ch. // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries

- Country: Israel
- Prescription sales in 2018: $13.12 billion (28.1% lower than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $1.21 billion (34.4% lower than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Copaxone ($2.37 billion), Bendeka ($642 million), Methylphenidate Hydrochloride ($481 million)

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is an Israeli-based company, founded initially as Salomon, Levin, and Elstein Ltd. in 1901. Teva has patents on drugs, including Copaxone for multiple sclerosis and Azilect for Parkinson’s disease. Once thought to be the largest generic drugmaker, Teva has recently been under debt.

7/
U.S. FDA // Flickr

#20. Allergan

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $14.7 billion (1.4% lower than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $1.58 billion (1.6% lower than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Botox ($3.58 billion), Restasis ($1.26 billion), Juvederm Voluma ($1.16 billion)

Before becoming a multibillion-dollar company, Allergan began as an eye care firm, creating products like the first cortisone eye drop to treat allergies. Today, one of Allergan’s major products is Botox. Most recently, Allergan announced its acquirement by pharmaceutical company AbbVie.

8/
Nur Cholis // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Boehringer Ingelheim

- Country: Germany
- Prescription sales in 2018: $14.83 billion (4% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $3.21 billion (4.4% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Spiriva ($2.85 billion), Pradaxa ($1.76 billion), Jardiance ($1.73 billion)

Based in Germany, Boehringer Ingelheim is privately owned by the Boehringer, Liebrecht, and von Baumbach families, and has been operating since 1885. The company focuses on human pharmaceuticals and animal health. As a globally operated company, Boehringer Ingelheim has 146 subsidiaries around the world.

9/
Sardaukar Blackfang // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Shire

- Country: Ireland
- Prescription sales in 2018: $14.99 billion (3.8% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $1.61 billion (2.4% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Vyvanse ($2.36 billion), Gammagard Liquid ($2.29 billion), Advate ($2.17 billion)

Originating from Ireland and with an operational base in the United States, Shire was a biopharmaceutical company with products including Vyvanse, Lialda, and Adderall XR. Shire attempted to acquire AbbVie in 2014, with the merger eventually called off. Years later, Takeda would acquire Shire, with the latter company folded in by 2019.

10/
Eyesonmilan // Shutterstock

#17. Celgene

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $15.24 billion (17.8% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $4.08 billion (35.2% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Revlimid ($9.69 billion), Pomalyst ($2.04 billion), Otezla ($1.61 billion)

Headquartered in New Jersey, Celgene primarily develops products to treat cancer and other inflammatory conditions. In 2019, Celgene was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for $74 billion, making for the largest pharmaceutical company acquisition ever; the merger is pending approval.

11/
Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#16. Takeda

- Country: Japan
- Prescription sales in 2018: $17.43 billion (28.3% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $3.01 billion (2.4% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Entyvio ($2.33 billion), Velcade ($884 million), Leuplin ($809 million)

Founded in 1781 selling traditional Japanese and Chinese herbal medicines, Takeda became an incorporated company in 1925. Currently, the largest Asian pharmaceutical company, Takeda focuses mainly on metabolic disorders, gastroenterology, neurology, inflammation, and oncology. In 2019, Takeda fully acquired Irish pharmaceutical company Shire.

12/
Mr Hyde // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Novo Nordisk

- Country: Denmark
- Prescription sales in 2018: $17.73 billion (4.5% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $2.35 billion (10.2% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Victoza ($3.86 billion), NovoRapid ($2.97 billion), Levemir ($1.77 billion)

Novo Nordisk, founded in 1923 in Denmark, specializes in care for diabetes. With that experience, the Danish company has also developed products meant to combat rare bleeding disorders, growth hormone-related disorders, and obesity. The company has been recognized as a top company to work for and as one of the most sustainable companies in the world.

13/
Conan // Flickr

#14. Bayer

- Country: Germany
- Prescription sales in 2018: $18.22 billion (3.9% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $3.42 billion (4.8% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Xarelto ($3.69 billion), Eylea ($2.58 billion), Mirena ($1.35 billion)

Best known for developing aspirin, Bayer is both a pharmaceutical company and a life sciences company. After World War II, its parent company, IG Farben, was broken up for using slave labor in concentration camps. Most recently, Bayer acquired agricultural company Monsanto, with the sale completed in 2018.

14/
Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#13. Eli Lilly

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $19.58 billion (5.7% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $4.99 billion (0.5% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Trulicity ($3.20 billion), Humalog ($3 billion), Alimta ($2.13 billion)

Founded by and named after pharmaceutical chemist and American Civil War veteran Eli Lilly, this company is significant for being the first company to mass-produce the polio vaccine. It is also the largest manufacturer for psychiatric medications such as Prozac, Dolophine, Cymbalta, and Zyprexa. The company is ranked #123 on the Fortune 500.

15/
othree // Flickr

#12. AstraZeneca

- Country: United Kingdom
- Prescription sales in 2018: $20.67 billion (4.5% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $5.27 billion (2.7% lower than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Symbicort Turbuhaler ($2.56 billion), Tagrisso ($1.86 billion), Nexium ($1.7 billion)

AstraZeneca is the result of a 1999 merger between Swedish company Astra AB and English company Zeneca Group. The company mainly develops products to treat oncology, respiratory, cardiovascular, neuroscience, and gastrointestinal disorders.

16/
A 4 // Flickr

#11. Bristol-Myers Squibb

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $21.58 billion (18.2% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $5.13 billion (6.5% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Opdivo ($6.74 billion), Eliquis ($6.44 billion), Sprycel ($2 billion)

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, or BMS for short, develops and manufactures prescription pharmaceuticals to treat several areas and ailments, not limited to cancer, AIDS/HIV, and cardiovascular disease. Founded in 1858 as Squibb and renaming as Bristol-Myers Squibb in 1887, the company has had a long history in the United States, from providing medical goods during the Civil War to receiving the National Medal of Technology by President Bill Clinton in 1999.

17/
Jeffrey Beall // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Gilead Sciences

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $21.68 billion (15.5% lower than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $3.9 billion (21.7% lower than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Genvoya ($4.62 billion), Truvada ($3 billion), Epclusa ($1.97 billion)

In 1987, medical doctor Michael L. Riordan founded Gilead Sciences, which focuses on therapeutics for life-threatening diseases. Specifically, the company develops antiviral drugs that treat HIV, hepatitis, and influenza. While Gilead has been overall successful, reports indicate that the company has been using tax loopholes.

18/
Pixabay

#9. Amgen

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $22.53 billion (3.4% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $3.66 billion (5.1% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Enbrel ($5.01 billion), Neulasta ($4.48 billion), Prolia ($2.29 billion)

Short for Applied Molecular Genetics Inc., Amgen is one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies. Largest selling products from the company include Neulasta, which is used to prevent infections from cancer chemotherapy, and Enbrel, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. With an emphasis on “biology first,” Amgen has attracted hundreds of scientists to Newbury Park in California.

19/
Ian Wilson // Wikimedia Commons

#8. GlaxoSmithKline

- Country: United Kingdom
- Prescription sales in 2018: $30.65 billion (6.9% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $4.99 billion (0.1% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Triumeq ($3.54 billion), Advair ($3.23 billion), Tivicay ($2.19 billion)

Also known as GSK for short, GlaxoSmithKline is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. GSK develops several pharmaceuticals, the malaria vaccine, and consumer products like Aquafresh toothpaste. In 2012, GSK settled and paid $3 billion after pleading guilty to fraud.

20/
FIWH FISH // Flickr

#7. AbbVie

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $32.07 billion (15.6% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $5.09 billion (5.4% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Humira ($19.94 billion), Mavyret ($3.44 billion), Imbruvica ($2.97 billion)

Originally a part of Abbott Laboratories, AbbVie spun off into its own biopharmaceutical company in 2013. AbbVie commercially sells specialty drug ibrutinib, but some patients have not filled their prescriptions due to the high costs of the drug. Pending approval, AbbVie is due to acquire Allergan as of 2019.

21/
Public Domain

#6. Sanofi

- Country: France
- Prescription sales in 2018: $35.12 billion (3.1% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $6.23 billion (0.8% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Lantus ($4.21 billion), Pentacel ($2.07 billion), Fluzone ($2.02 billion)

Paris-based company Sanofi is the world’s largest producer of vaccines, but the company also manufactures and markets several different prescribed drugs. The U.S. branch advertises its focus on rare diseases, multiple sclerosis, oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. The company is a result of a merger with Aventis, but both Aventis and Sanofi are the products of numerous mergers before.

22/
Atmosphere1 // Shutterstock

#5. Merck & Co.

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $37.35 billion (5.6% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $7.91 billion (4.6% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Keytruda ($7.17 billion), Januvia ($3.69 billion), Gardasil ($3.15 billion)

Merck & Co. was established as a subsidiary of German company Merck, which itself was established in 1668. As of 2014, Merck & Co. had more new drugs approved than any other company. Additionally, the company also publishes "The Merck Manuals," which are a series of medical reference books for physicians, nurses, technicians, and veterinarians.

23/
JHVEPhoto // Shuttestock

#4. Johnson & Johnson

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $38.82 billion (12.8% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $8.45 billion (1% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Stelara ($5.16 billion), Remicade ($4.89 billion), Zytiga ($3.5 billion)

Probably the most recognized pharmaceutical company to consumers is Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures many medical devices, medications, and consumer products. The company also owns the Band-Aid brand, Tylenol, Johnson’s Baby products, and Neutrogena skincare products. While the company’s brand is popular, the company has also been the subject of litigation and several controversies.

24/
Andrew // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Novartis

- Country: Switzerland
- Prescription sales in 2018: $43.48 billion (3.8% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $8.15 billion (4.3% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Gilenya ($3.34 billion), Cosentyx ($2.84 billion), Lucentis ($2.05 billion)

Swiss company Novartis was split up into three distinct divisions: Innovative Medicines, Sandoz, with a focus on generics, and Alcon for eye care. Novartis was created from a merger between Sandoz and Alcon, both companies already being significantly large in their respective fields. As of 2019, Alcon is now again a separate commercial entity.

25/
jenvargas // Flickr

#2. Roche

- Country: Switzerland
- Prescription sales in 2018: $44.55 billion (6.8% higher than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $9.80 billion (6.8% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Herceptin ($7.14 billion), Avastin ($7 billion), Rituxan ($6.9 billion)

Hoffmann-La Roche is split up into a pharmaceuticals division and a diagnostics division, manufacturing both pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. The company was founded in 1896, being the first to mass-produce vitamin C. Roche advertises itself as the largest biotech company in the world and the second-largest pharmaceutical company worldwide.

26/
Marc Bruxelle // Shutterstock

#1. Pfizer

- Country: United States
- Prescription sales in 2018: $45.30 billion (0.1% lower than previous year)
- Research and development spending in 2018: $7.96 billion (4.4% higher than previous year)
- Top-selling drugs: Prevnar 13 ($5.8 billion), Lyrica ($4.97 billion), Ibrance ($4.12 billion)

The largest pharmaceutical company in the world is Pfizer, which was founded in 1849. Its most famous product is Lipitor, which is used to lower LDL blood cholesterol. Pfizer is planning a merger with GlaxoSmithKline, while Mylan will merge with Pfizer’s patent medicine division Upjohn.

2018 All rights reserved.