ProClinical Life Sciences Recruitment Blog

Who are the top pharmaceutical companies in the world? (2017)

Posted by Monique Ellis

14/06/17 15:19

Every day the pharmaceutical industry strives to develop better and more effective drugs and therapies to battle the world’s most pressing health problems. Year on year, a collection of ultra-successful pharma giants continue to lead the fight. Here are the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world based on their 2016 revenue:

10.   Bayer

top 10 pharma Bayer US$25.27bn

*New entry*

Bayer, the creators of world-famous drug Aspirin, is a German pharmaceutical company that was established nearly 150 years ago in 1863. Bayer joins the 2017 list of top 10 pharmaceutical companies thanks to a surge of sales from drug Xarelto, used to treat blood clots and injection Eylea, for retina disease. Contributing to its success was the decision to take a $66 billion merger with Monsanto, a US-based agriculture biotechnology company. The merger is expected to give Bayer an extra boost that will continue to drive up sales and investment in the development of new drugs and treatments.

9.   AbbVie

Top 10 pharmaceutical company AbbVieUS$25.56bn

*New entry*

AbbVie is an American biopharmaceutical company that specialises in making small molecule drugs for patients worldwide. A new entry into ProClinical’s top 10 pharma list, the company is famous for developing the best-selling drug, Humira, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The company also focuses on other therapy areas such as dermatology, oncology, neurological disorders and metabolic diseases. AbbVie owes much of its success this year to the usual range of global top selling drugs, such as Humira and Imbruvica, although Lupron, Veikira and Synthroid have also played a role in boosting revenue. 

8.   Gilead

Top 10 Gilead pharmaUS$30.39bn

2016 position: 8

Research-based biopharma, Gilead, retains the same spot among pharma’s top 10 list as last year. In 2016, the company gained regulatory approval for Vemlidy, used to treat chronic hepatitis B virus infections. Historically, Gilead focused on developing antiviral drugs for infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis B/C, however, the company has branched out into other areas such as pulmonary diseases. Although 2016 antiviral drug sales accounted for 90% of total revenue, the amount accumulated from other pharmaceutical sales has risen by 13.6% since 2015.

7.   GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

top pharma GSK US$34.79bn

2016 position: 10

British pharmaceutical company GSK has risen by two places this year. The increase can be attributed to the excellent performance of HIV drugs Trivicay and Triumeq, and strong vaccine sales, particularly the meningitis and flu vaccine. The company prides itself on its broad therapeutic outreach that features a strong pipeline of innovative drugs and therapies within areas such as neurology, oncology, respiratory and immuno-inflammation. In 2016, GSK’s then-CEO Andrew Witty believes that the year’s performance was due to “investments we made to build new scale and sustainability in the group and to develop new products” and hopes to see this success continue into 2017.

6.   Sanofi

Sanofi  biggest pharmas in the worldUS$36.57bn

2016 position: 7

Up by one place, Sanofi is a French pharmaceutical company that focuses on developing and manufacturing therapies for some of today’s biggest global health issues. The company gained FDA approval for once-daily insulin injection Soliqua for patients with type 2 diabetes, while blockbuster drug Lantus (diabetes and cardiovascular) experienced a dip in sales compared with 2015. Despite this, the diabetes and cardiovascular segment grew 3.8%, alongside Sanofi Genzyme (specialty care) which increased by 12.6% and the Rare Disease Franchise by 9.7%.

5.    Merck & Co

Merck top 10 pharma in worldUS$39.8bn

2016 position: 6

Also climbing the chart this year, Merck & Co is a US pharmaceutical company headquartered in New Jersey. Although the company did not experience a substantial leap in revenue compared with 2015 figures, Merck has maintained steady market growth throughout 2016 and into 2017. Notably, their non-small cell cancer drug Keytruda gained regulatory approval from the FDA and EMA and is expected to be a ‘game-changer’ for lung cancer patients worldwide.

4.   Novartis

best pharmaceutical companies Novartis US$48.52bn

2016 position: 3

Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis, develops pharmaceutical products in the areas of pharmaceuticals, oncology, generics and biosimilars. 2016 saw a slight dip in market growth from the previous year, but the company counteracted this loss by making some strategic internal changes to boost future sales. For example, Novartis split their pharmaceutical unit in two, with one being exclusively focused on oncology – an area of great focus that they hope to expand going forwards. Also, hot-seller psoriasis drug Cosentyx was a big success in 2016 and shows no signs of slowing down in 2017.

3.   Roche

Roche top 10 pharmaceutical company 2017US$50.11bn

2016 position: 5

In the top three pharmaceutical companies of 2017 is another Swiss-based pharma, Roche. The company develops drugs and diagnostic instruments and has a presence in Europe, North America, South America and Asia. This year’s success is owed to growing sales of best-selling drugs, Herceptin, Kadcyla and Perjeta that increased by 4%, 7% and 26% respectively. The company is also looking to push some new innovate drugs into the market over the next few years, including much-anticipated Ocrevus that will be used to treat multiple sclerosis.

2.   Pfizer

Pfizer top 10 pharma 2017US$52.82bn

2016 position: 4

In second place, American biopharmaceutical company Pfizer has moved up two places from last year. The company focuses on a wide range of therapy areas including oncology, neuroscience, metabolic diseases and rare disease, as well as developing vaccines. Increased revenue can be linked to the significant growth of several drugs including Ibrance (breast cancer), Lyrica (pain) and Eliquis (blood thinner) that contributed to an overall 5% hike up in sales. Also, Pfizer acquired Anacor, a small pharmaceutical company based in California, that is expected to boost the pharma giant’s inflammation and immunology portfolio in the coming years.  

1.   Johnson & Johnson

Johnson and Johnson top pharmaceutical company 2017US$71.89bn

2016 position: 1

With nearly $20 billion more in revenue, Johnson & Johnson is by far the world’s largest pharmaceutical company based on revenue. The US pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer health provider is a long-established household name, with staple products such as Aveeno, Johnson’s Baby and Clean & Clear dominating the consumer goods market. Revenue has increased, in part, due to a 6.5% rise in pharmaceutical sales although a large bulk of the company’s profits are from their consumer health segment. The boost in pharmaceutical sales is mostly thanks to the stellar performance of cancer drug Imbruvica, which is up by 86%. Like Pfizer, J&J have consolidated a good year with a well-matched $30 billion merger with Swiss biopharma Actelion.

As a specialist recruitment company operating exclusively in the life science industry, ProClinical is recruiting now for multiple vacancies at top 10 pharmaceutical companies globally. Simply upload your CV to start getting matched with relevant and exciting opportunities across the industry.

Topics: Life sciences news, Top 10 blog, Top 10 list


About this blog

ProClinical is one of the leading recruitment agencies in the life sciences sector. Blogs are written by ProClinical recruitment consultants and experts within the recruitment and life sciences industries. This blog features advice on finding new jobs and career planning, as well as life sciences news and hiring tips for employers.

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