10 Top Pharma Companies by Revenue

How to Invest in Pharmaceuticals
a red background with a white number 10

Here’s a breakdown of the top pharma companies by revenue in 2020, according to information from research firm Fierce Pharma.

The pharmaceutical industry is the cornerstone of development, marketing and commercialization for drug treatments and medications for the patient population.

According to data from Statista, revenue in the pharma sector topped US$1 trillion for the first time in 2014, and has steadily increased since then to reach US$1.27 trillion in 2020. North America serves as the largest segment of this growth thanks to the behemoth US pharmaceutical industry. In terms of prescription drugs alone, Evaluate Pharma estimates that sales will reach US$1.18 trillion by 2024.

So which companies are responsible for the most growth and innovation in the space?

Fierce Pharma has identified 20 of the top pharma companies by revenue, many of which are involved in researching, developing and manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines or diagnostic tests for the COVID-19 virus and antibodies. Here the Investing News Network provides an overview of the 10 top pharma companies by revenue.

1. Johnson & Johnson

2020 revenue: US$82.6 billion

It should come as no surprise that pharmaceutical titan Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) tops the list. Johnson & Johnson is a holding company that is actively involved in research and development, manufacturing and sales for consumer, pharmaceutical and medical device products, among others.

Under the consumer market umbrella are products for baby care, oral care, skin care and women's health. In terms of pharmaceuticals, the company is focused on five major therapeutic areas: immunology, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, oncology and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. It also manufactures over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.

Worldwide sales for Johnson & Johnson increased by 0.6 percent from 2019 to 2020.

2. Roche Holding (F. Hoffmann-La Roche)

2020 revenue: US$62.05 billion

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, commonly known as Roche, operates two key divisions: pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche Holding (OTCQX:RHHBF,SWX:RO) is its holding company.

Roche Diagnostics is made up of five key business areas: Roche Applied Science, Roche Professional Diagnostics, Roche Diabetes Care, Roche Molecular Diagnostics and Roche Tissue Diagnostics. The sectors Roche targets in its pharmaceutical division are as follows: oncology, neuroscience, infectious diseases, immunology, hematology, hemophilia, ophthalmology and pulmonology.

Revenue for Roche Holding fell in 2020 compared to the US$65.4 billion in 2019.

3. Novartis

2020 revenue: US$48.66 billion

Similar to Roche Holding, Novartis (NYSE:NVS,SWX:NOVN) is based in Basel, Switzerland. The company is focused on a wide range of disease areas, including various cancers, malaria, leprosy and sickle cell disease. Novartis is also developing a cell and gene therapy technology platform that includes adeno-associated virus-based therapy, CAR-T cell therapy and gene therapy based on CRISPR.

Revenue for Novartis in 2020 increased slightly from US$47.45 billion in 2019.

4. Merck

2020 revenue: US$48 billion

Merck (NYSE:MRK) is another global company. Its product line includes therapies for diabetes, cancer, vaccines and hospital care. The conditions the company aims to treat include cancer, HIV, HPV, Ebola, hepatitis C, cardio-metabolic disease and antibiotic-resistant infections.

Merck's revenue for 2020 increased from the US$46.84 billion it earned in 2019.

5. AbbVie

2020 revenue: US$45.8 billion

AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) is a research-driven biopharmaceutical company that develops products for chronic autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases and metabolic diseases, as well as diseases in the fields of gastroenterology, dermatology and oncology. The company's product Humira treats rheumatoid arthritis, chronic plaque psoriasis, Crohn's disease, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis and non-infectious uveitis.

Overall, AbbVie's revenue in 2020 increased by an eye-popping 38 percent year-over-year.

6. GlaxoSmithKline 

2020 revenue: US$43.77 billion

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK,LSE:GSK) has three main business divisions: pharmaceuticals, consumer healthcare and vaccines. Its pharmaceutical products include products for diseases such as asthma, cancer, infections, diabetes and mental health. In terms of consumer healthcare products, GlaxoSmithKline's line includes products for oral healthcare, cold sores, nasal strips and nicotine patches.

Revenue for GlaxoSmithKline in 2020 was up only slightly from the US$43.32 billion earned the previous year.

7. Bristol Myers Squibb

2020 revenue: US$42.52 billion

Pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) researches, develops and delivers medicines for the treatment of serious diseases focusing on the areas of hematology, oncology, cardiology and immunology. The company launched a US$74 billion mega merger with Celgene in November 2019.

Revenue for Bristol Myers Squibb in 2020 was up 63 percent year-over-year, partially due to Celgene sales.

8. Pfizer

2020 revenue: US$41.9 billion

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) is a world-renowned research pharmaceutical company developing drugs in a wide range of areas, including oncology, inflammation and immunology, vaccines, internal medicine and rare diseases.

Fierce Pharma reports that Pfizer dropped from the number three spot in 2019 to number eight in 2020 as a result of the divestiture of its generics business Upjohn. Otherwise, Pfizer's total 2020 revenue would represent a 2 percent increase year-over-year rather than being down nearly US$10 billion from 2019.

9. Sanofi

2020 revenue: US$41.08 billion

Based in France, Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY) develops products in therapeutic areas such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, oncology, immunology, multiple sclerosis, rare diseases, rare blood disorders and vaccines. Sanofi is the world's largest producer of vaccines thanks to its subsidiary Sanofi Pasteur.

In 2020, revenue for Sanofi was up slightly from the US$40.46 billion it earned in 2019.

10. Takeda Pharmaceuticals

2020 revenue: US$29.25 billion

Last on this list of top pharma companies by revenue is Japanese multinational Takeda (NYSE:TAK,TSE:4502), one of the largest biopharma companies in Asia. The company focuses its research and development activities on several therapeutic areas, including oncology, gastroenterology, rare diseases and neuroscience. Takeda also targets its research and development efforts at plasma-derived therapies and vaccines.

Its partner Novavax is looking to seek regulatory approval for a rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine in Japan in early 2022. Year-over-year, Takeda's revenue was down narrowly from US$30.27 billion in 2019.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2019.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates!

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

How to Invest in Pharmaceuticals:


S&P 5003585.62-54.85


Heating Oil3.23-0.07
Natural Gas6.83-0.05