5 Top Pharmaceutical ETFs

- April 17th, 2020

A wide range of investors may want to consider pharmaceutical ETFs as a way to stay informed about and invest in leaders in the industry.

Experienced and novice investors alike may want to consider pharmaceutical exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as a way to stay informed about what companies are leading the industry.

Pharma ETFs are key for investors who want to trade a set of assets instead of individual companies.

Pharmaceutical ETFs are composed of numerous companies in the pharmaceutical industry. The advantages of ETF investments include the fact that they provide exposure to an overarching sector but still trade like a stock. They also offer less market volatility and lower fees and expenses.


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The pharma ETFs on the list below hold broad portfolios of pharma companies. Pharmaceutical ETFs give investors exposure to what these companies have to offer and where they stand in the market.

To help investors become more aware of what some of their options are when looking at investing in the pharmaceutical sector, the Investing News Network is looking at the five top ETFs (barring any leveraged ETFs) in the space, according to ETFdb.com. Included on the list are:

  • Invesco Dynamic Pharmaceuticals ETF (ARCA:PJP)
  • iShares US Pharmaceuticals ETF (ARCA:IHE)
  • SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF (ARCA:XPH)
  • Invesco Dynamic Biotechnology & Genome ETF (ARCA:PBE)
  • VanEck Vectors Pharmaceutical ETF (NASDAQ:PPH)

The funds are arranged by the value of their assets as of February 26, 2020. Here’s a closer look at these pharmaceutical ETFs.

1. Invesco Dynamic Pharmaceuticals ETF

Net asset value: US$362.03 million

The Invesco Dynamic Pharmaceuticals ETF is primarily focused on giving investors exposure to US-based pharmaceutical companies. An analyst report says that this ETF chooses individual securities based on certain investment criteria, namely stock valuation and risk factors. Notably, it claims that investing in pharmaceutical companies can be risky due to US Food and Drug Administration regulations and the “rigorous testing” required before a product is leveraged on the market.

This ETF was started on June 23, 2005, and currently tracks 30 holdings. Its top holdings are pharma giants such as Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), all weighing in at over 5 percent each.

2. iShares US Pharmaceuticals ETF

Net asset value: US$342.77 million

Created on May 5, 2006, the iShares US Pharmaceuticals ETF also tracks some of the top US pharma companies. In total, this ETF tracks 45 holdings with 64 percent being large-cap stocks, 20 percent being mid-cap stocks and 15 percent being divided between micro-cap and small-cap stocks.

Its top holdings include Johnson & Johnson and Merck (NYSE:MRK), each above 15 percent in weight, Eli Lilly and Company with over 5 percent weightage and Zoetis (NYSE:ZTS) with a 4.89 percent weightage.

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3. SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF

Net asset value: US$246.64 million

The SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF came into the market on June 19, 2006, and represents the pharmaceutical sub-industry sector of the S&P Total Markets Index. An analyst report for the ETF suggests that, due to its narrow focus — which includes pharma giants that post “big returns” during times of consolidation — it should not be considered for a long-term investment portfolio.

While this pharma ETF tracks 40 holdings, the fund’s top three all hover around the 5 percent mark, including Perrigo Company (NYSE:PRGO), Zoetis and Elanco Animal Heath (NYSE:ELAN).

4. Invesco Dynamic Biotechnology & Genome ETF

Net asset value: US$227.21 million

Established in 2005, the Invesco Dynamic Biotechnology & Genome ETF tracks the Dynamic Biotechnology & Genome Intellidex Index and, according to an analyst report, provides exposure to the biotech subsector of the US healthcare industry, giving access to a group of biotech stocks that eagerly thrive from technological breakthroughs and investment in medical processes.

Included in this ETF are 30 constituents, including top holdings such as Eli Lilly and Company, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie, all with weightings of over 5 percent each.

5. VanEck Vectors Pharmaceutical ETF

Net asset value: US$160.65 million

Established in late 2011, the VanEck Vectors Pharmaceutical ETF tracks the MVIS US Listed Pharmaceutical 25 Index. It has the capacity to provide big returns, even though there are some risks attached to the ETF. An analyst report indicates that investors looking for “tactical exposure” to the pharma sector might consider this ETF as an investment option.

Included in this ETF are a slightly smaller 26 holdings, including top constituents such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NYSE:TEVA), Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO), AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson, McKesson (NYSE:MCK) and Eli Lilly and Company, all with weightings of over 5 percent each.

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

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

Securities Disclosure: I, Nicole Rashotte, hold no investment interest in any of the companies mentioned.

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