Pharma Stocks: 5 Biggest Companies in 2023

Pharmaceutical Investing
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The five biggest pharmaceutical companies by market cap are Johnson & Johnson, Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, AbbVie and Merck.

The biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world are responsible for developing and manufacturing the vast majority of prescription drugs, giving them a key role in the life science industry.

The pharma sector is responsible for the discovery, development and manufacturing of drugs and medicine. Companies are developing innovative treatments in areas like immuno-oncology and neurology, as well as novel options for rare diseases.

With the pharmaceutical sector projected to reach a staggering US$1.6 trillion in total revenue by 2028, the need for the industry is great. Opportunities for investment are also sizeable, but what's the best place to start? Those who want exposure to the pharma market may want to begin by looking at the major players in the space.

With that in mind, here are the five biggest drug companies by market cap. Data for this article was compiled using’s stock screener on March 28, 2023, and stocks are listed from largest to smallest.

1. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)

Market cap: US$396.69 billion

Starting off this list of the biggest pharma companies is Johnson & Johnson, a life science holding firm that is massive in scale and covers many areas through its subsidiaries. In terms of pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson’s focus is on six therapeutic areas: cardiovascular disease and metabolism, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, oncology, immunology and pulmonary hypertension.

In March 2023, Johnson & Johnson announced it had been named to Fortune's 2023 Most Innovative Companies list, landing in the top 20.

2. Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO)

Market cap: US$348.51 billion

Novo Nordisk has honed its efforts on both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, obesity, hemophilia and growth disorders. The company markets products in around 170 countries. Its diabetes treatment offerings include the app-supported NovoPen 6 and NovoPen Echo Plus, which offer diabetes patients a less invasive way to monitor and record dosing information.

Last September, Novo announced a partnership with Microsoft (NYSE:MSFT); Novo will use the tech giant's artificial intelligence, cloud and computational services for its drug discovery and development. In March, the company shared phase 3 results from its PIONEER PLUS treatment for type 2 diabetes, and said it anticipates that it will apply for regulatory approvals in the US and EU this year.

3. Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY)

Market cap: US$330.83 billion

Founded in 1876, Eli Lilly and Company develops products for human and animal health. Its human pharma products include therapies for diabetes, oncology, immunology and pain. The company's clinical trial research areas also include neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular health and weight management.

Eli Lilly has research and development facilities and manufacturing plants in eight countries and has done clinical research in over 50 countries. In March, Eli Lilly made headlines when it announced it would be capping customers' out of pocket price of insulin at US$35 per month.

4. AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV)

Market cap: US$279.39 billion

AbbVie's areas of focus, according to the company, are ones in which they have proven their expertise and where they have greater potential to improve treatments for those conditions. The areas of focus their pharmaceutical products and research include immunology, oncology, neuroscience, eye care and aesthetics.

In early March, AbbVie announced that its RINVOX (upadacitinib) treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus was being advanced to phase 3 clinical trials based on the results of its phase 2 study.

5. Merck & Company (NYSE:MRK)

Market cap: US$267.95 billion

Merck & Company has a massive product line and pipeline, including therapies for diabetes, cancer, vaccines, hospital care and animal health. Currently, the company has over 30 programs in phase 3 trials and over 10 under review. The company aims to treat conditions such as cancer, HIV, HPV, Ebola, hepatitis C, cardio-metabolic disease and antibiotic-resistant infections.

The company acquired Acceleron Pharma for US$11.5 billion back in 2021, and it has now acquired Imago BioSciences for US$1.5 billion in January 2023. Both acquisitions are expected to significantly expand Merck's treatment portfolio and revenue-generating capacity.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2016.

Don’t forget to follow @INN_LifeScience for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Lauren Kelly, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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