Largest Drug Companies

The pharmaceutical industry is a global business, and it’s a multibillion-dollar one. The WHO estimated last year that overall spending on prescription medicines would rise by 5% to 10% annually over the next few years as emerging markets saw greater demand for drugs. The global pharmaceutical market accounts for nearly a trillion in annual sales, with prescription drugs accounting for approximately two-thirds of that revenue. Drug companies are structured in a wide variety of organizational forms. Some are large, vertically integrated conglomerates run by holding companies; others are smaller firms with only one or two products. The size of the company generally determines how it will be structured, although there is significant variation within this. Let’s know about Largest Drug Companies .

Largest Drug Companies

Some largest drug companies

Below are some of the largest drugs companies in the world –

  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Pfizer Inc
  • Merck & Co
  • AbbVie
  • Gilead Sciences
  • Biogen
  • Amgen Inc
  • Incyte Corp

More information about these companies

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is an American multinational pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer packaged goods, and Food Company. It is the world’s largest healthcare company based on sales. The company sells products in various categories. J&J currently has four main businesses: Pharmaceuticals (31% of sales), Medical Devices and Diagnostics (30%), Consumer Healthcare (29%), and Consumer Products (9%). Its headquarters are located in New Brunswick.

  • How big they are – Johnson & Johnson is a gigantic company. In 2017, the company’s total revenue was $71 billion. The company produces a huge range of products including baby shampoo, adult diapers, and even bandages.
  • The growth – Johnson & Johnson has built a reputation as a trustworthy and reliable source for many different types of products. The company is so well recognized that its name alone is commonly used as a generic term for health care items. In 1886, when Robert Wood Johnson was 25 years old, he started a business in his parent’s kitchen. The company was called Johnson & Johnson and it produced two products: red medicinal talc and baby powder. After that, the company continued to expand and is now the world’s largest health care products manufacturer. They realized that their customers were people just like them. They wanted effective products that were easy to use, and they appreciated honesty and transparency. So J&J created brands that fit those specifications and just kept doing it.

Pfizer Inc.

Pfizer Inc. is an American pharmaceutical corporation, with its research headquarters in Groton, Connecticut. The company was founded in 1849 in Brooklyn, New York, as Parke, Davis & Company by cousins Charles and George Foster Parke with a capital investment of $6,000. It was co-founded by their cousin Silas H. Bean as P. Davis & Company. The founders named it after their partner Elijah Parish Pfizer who had died two years earlier. it spends more on healthcare research than any other organization. It operates in eight business segments: Consumer Healthcare (55% of 2016 revenues), Pfizer Innovative Health (24%), Established Products (18%), Animal Health (3%), among others.

  • How big they are – today it is one of the world’s largest drug makers based on revenue ($58 billion) and the third-largest based on total revenue ($74 billion). Its headquarters are in New York City. Pfizer operates in over 20 countries across five continents with 150 affiliates in total. It is headquartered in New York City, United States with operations in over 75 countries. Pfizer generates more revenue through its subsidiaries than any other American drug company with a market capitalization of $182 billion. The company has more than 10,000 employees across the world and more than 50,000 scientists. Pfizer has always been a leader in research and development, and they were one of the first companies to develop mass-production techniques for making drugs on a large scale.
  • The growth – Pfizer played a major role in creating and improving many groundbreaking drugs including Viagra, Lipitor, Xanax, and Zoloft. It also developed Norvasc, which is the only prescription medication to help prevent strokes and heart attacks. In 2011 Pfizer Inc generated total revenue of $64 billion, an increase of 4% from 2010. It’s also a company that has struggled to stay relevant in recent years after its patent protection on Viagra expired. But, Pfizer didn’t always hold this position. The company only became the giant that it is today after decades of smart thinking, trial and error, and lean processes that have made them the poster child for smart innovation.

Merck & Co

Merck & Co., Inc. (also known as Merck in the United States, Canada, and Mexico) is an American pharmaceutical company and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

The company was established in 1891 as a subsidiary of the German company Merck.

  • How big they are – Merck & Co today helps millions of customers around the world through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and animal health products. The company operates in almost 50 countries worldwide and has 96,000 employees who serve customers in more than 140 countries and has its headquarters in Kenilworth, New Jersey, and operates in the United States, Europe, Canada, Asia, Australia, and Latin America.
  • The growth – They are a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. The Merck Manual was first published in 1899 as a service to the community. 


A company that has successfully leveraged the power of its brand is AbbVie. AbbVie is a pharmaceutical company focused on developing and marketing both biopharmaceuticals and small molecule drugs. While AbbVie has been around for more than 100 years, the company had to get creative with its branding strategy when it merged with Abbott Laboratories in January of 2014. This merger created one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

  • How big they are – AbbVie, a global research-driven pharmaceutical company, is one of the world’s largest independent makers of prescription medications. It also has offices in the cities of Tokyo, London and Beijing. It was formed in 2013 through the merger between Abbott Laboratories and Belgium-based Solvay Pharmaceuticals. The first company Abbott Laboratories (now AbbVie), was founded in 1888 by an American medical doctor, Wallace Abbott. The second company was the British pharmaceutical company, Beecham, which was founded by Thomas Beecham in 1843. During this merger, Abbott acquired several major cancer drugs from Solvay. Combined with their existing portfolio, Abbott then began developing these assets into new treatments for patients with cancer. The company employs nearly 50,000 people worldwide, and it has reached revenues of over $28 billion in 2015.
  • The growth – AbbVie, a global research-driven pharmaceutical company, is one of the world’s largest independent makers of prescription medications. In 2013, AbbVie was ranked No. 10 on Forbes World’s Most Innovative Companies list. AbbVie is a diversified, global, research-based biopharmaceutical company committed to developing innovative advanced therapies for some of the world’s most complex and critical conditions. In more than 75 countries worldwide, AbbVie employees are working every day to advance health solutions for people around the world.

Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company that specializes in developing drugs for life-threatening diseases. Gilead was formed in 1987 when Dr. Michael Riordan joined forces with Dr. Gordon M. Binder to create a new company. The idea behind Gilead was to harness scientific expertise to research and develop antiviral agents that were effective against HIV, the AIDS virus.

  • How big they are – Gilead has grown into one of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world. The company’s success can be attributed to its vision, which focuses on the discovery and development of antiviral meds. Gilead Sciences is a company that develops medications for treating diseases like hepatitis C, liver cancer, and HIV. The company has an extremely effective product mix, consisting of six products with sales of over $4 billion. Gilead has a high net income margin among the other pharmaceutical companies in the world. The company operates through three segments: HIV, HCV, and Other Infectious Diseases (OID), and Oncology.
  • The growth – The growth of Gilead Sciences over time shows that the way to success is to find opportunities where others haven’t. Gilead has seen explosive growth over the years. It started with just $40 million in sales in 1996 and grew to become a $7 billion company in 2013. Gilead’s strategy was to focus on discovering new drugs for under-treated diseases. This approach has proven to be highly successful. Gilead Sciences is the maker of the best-selling drugs for hepatitis C, including Sovaldi and Harvoni, both of which have topped $1 billion in annual sales. The company was founded as a biotechnology research start-up by Martin L. Shkreli and seven other people from Stanford University In 1987. Originally named Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals, the company changed its name to the present Gilead in 1989 after it received a $10 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The company’s success is based on a simple strategy: Acquire other companies with promising drugs and develop those drugs into high-quality products. The result has been a string of blockbuster drugs that have propelled Gilead to the top tier of Biopharma companies.


Biogen is a global leader in the discovery, development, and delivery of innovative therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative, hematologic, oncologic, and autoimmune diseases. The company’s mission is to find treatments that will change the course of these diseases. They are leading the way in scientific innovation to help people with some of the world’s most complex and serious diseases. Biogen researches develop, manufactures, and sells products including Avonex (routine maintenance treatment for multiple sclerosis), Tysabri (multiple sclerosis), Plegridy (MS), and Tecfidera (MS), among others. Biogen has the broadest and robust portfolio in neuroscience with six approved treatments for Parkinson’s disease, five for multiple sclerosis, four for spinal muscular atrophy, four for epilepsy, three for Crohn’s disease, and two for neuropathy.

  • How big they are – Biogen is a leading biotechnology company that develops therapies for some of the world’s most serious diseases. It ranks among the world’s leading biotech firms, with global sales of $15.7 billion in 2017. The company has operations in approximately 40 countries worldwide and has more than 12,000 full-time employees. The Company has leading products in multiple neurology areas, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and spinal muscular atrophy; cardiovascular and metabolic areas such as diabetes, lipid disorders, and acquired cardiac toxicity; as well as vaccines. . In 2016, Biogen invested $2.4 billion in R&D to discover and develop medicines to treat MS, hemophilia, neuromuscular disorders, autoimmune diseases, eye diseases, and other serious conditions.
  • The growth – Biogen was formed in 1978 by a group of scientists studying enzymes that assist in the functioning of cells. It’s a Massachusetts-based biopharmaceutical company, which developed several biologic drugs to treat autoimmune diseases. Its first product, made available in 1982, was an enzyme replacement therapy for MPS IIIA, a rare disorder of the central nervous system. Since then, Biogen has had more than 20 different treatments approved by various regulatory agencies for different indications. The company became a public limited liability company in 1991. The company’s sales grew from $911 million in 2004 to $15 billion in 2014. The global market for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is expected to reach $10.6 billion by 2020.

Amgen Inc.

Amgen Inc. is an American multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California. Amgen was founded in 1980 by several former scientists from UC Berkeley and Stanford University. The company produces numerous drugs including Epogen, Neupogen, and Sensipar, and focuses primarily on human therapeutics with its largest selling products being Enbrel, Aranesp, and Xgeva. Amgen also has a strong presence in various medical specialties such as cardiology, nephrology, and oncology.

  • How big they are – Amgen was founded by three scientists in 1980 and has since expanded into one of the world’s largest biotech companies. The company currently employs over 21,000 people worldwide and is headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California. Amgen focuses on four core areas: cardiovascular & metabolic disease, inflammation & immunology, nephrology, and oncology/hematology. Amgen’s mission is to transform medicine at the molecular level by using innovative science and technologies.
  • The growth – Amgen, Inc. engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative therapies for the treatment of serious illnesses. It has grown to be one of the largest biotech companies, with a market value of $97 billion. Amgen’s main products are Neupogen, Aranesp, Prolia, and Xgeva. The company operates through Biopharmaceutical business and Proprietary Products business segments. It develops biotechnology-based therapeutics and small molecules for cancer, anemia, bone disease, cardiovascular disease, pain, inflammation, and autoimmunity.

Incyte Corp

Incyte Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company, which discovers and develops innovative medicines for the treatment of cancer. It focuses on developing cytokines, development, and commercialization of medicines that target protein kinases, including cyclin-dependent kinases and other protein serine/threonine kinases. Incyte’s pipeline includes Jakafi(R) (ruxolitinib) for the treatment of myelofibrosis; investigational medicines for solid tumors, acute myeloid leukemia, and other blood disorders. Incyte uses its expertise in gene regulation to discover and develop novel drugs for solid tumors.

  • How big they are – The Company’s portfolio includes three approved products and multiple clinical and preclinical product candidates. Total Revenues of Incyte Corp are estimated at around $2 billion. Incyte Corp. is a big player in the development of personalized medicine, where treatments are engineered for specific patients based on their DNA and other molecular characteristics. Incyte has a forward price-to-earnings ratio of about 15 and an annual growth rate in earnings per share of about 15% since 2010. Incyte’s lead product is Jakafi (ruxolitinib.)
  • The growth – Incyte is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative epigenetic therapeutics in cancer and other diseases. Incyte is a pioneer in the field of epigenetics and has developed a portfolio of proprietary compounds for genomic modulation with significant commercial potential. Incyte uses an unusual business strategy. They developed a kind of drug that works better than other drugs on the market. Because it’s so effective, it can be used in combination with other cancer medications, which doctors like to do. The Company’s broad pipeline includes several product candidates in different stages of clinical development designed to address unmet medical needs in oncology.

A detailed view on the drug industry 

The drug industry is a multi-billion dollar business. The industry has some of the biggest marketing budgets and spends billions of dollars on advertising and promotion every year. A lot of money goes into research and development, and a lot of money goes into promotion and marketing after a drug has been released to the market. The average cost of developing a new drug is $1.3 billion. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the pharmaceutical market was worth $846 billion in 2012. It is a drug manufacturer’s job to make sure that their products are as effective as possible, and doctors and patients rely on them to make smart decisions for their health. 

Employment in the drug industry

The sector employs more than 10 million people, including scientists, physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and sales representatives. It also provides significant medical services to many millions of patients. The drug industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world, with massive growth seen over the past decade. The pharmaceutical industry is worth a huge amount worldwide, and the largest companies are taking advantage of employment opportunities. The sector includes research-based pharmaceutical companies, generic drug manufacturers, biotechnology companies, medical device providers, and other healthcare-related businesses. As the demand for medicine increases, so does the need to hire people who can manufacture it. Many careers are available in this field, each with its specialties and responsibilities.

The Problems

The pharmaceutical industry has been plagued by scandals involving everything from price-fixing to lying about the benefits of drugs. For a long time, there was little oversight on this industry, and it seemed like nothing could stop them from continuing their unethical ways. However, thanks to the efforts of the FDA, that’s beginning to change. Drug companies have been making positive changes to their strategies for drug development and marketing. The industry is now making efforts to include patients in the process of new drug development and offer a better understanding of pharmaceutical products. This change not only helps promote the patient experience but also helps advance scientific research and reduce development costs. On the other side, however, the industry is also facing several serious challenges: patent expirations, fierce competition, and increasing pressure to keep prices low. The Internet and the ever-increasing speed and reach of social media are changing how people share information, access new services, and discover new products.

The future

The drug industry is changing quickly. In recent years, the pharmaceutical business has been under a lot of pressure from patent expirations, price wars, and a rapidly changing regulatory environment. Some companies have been able to withstand the pressures, but many have been forced to cut costs and make changes in strategy. To survive, pharmaceutical companies need to embrace innovation and change. To do that, they need to learn how to work as a community. Otherwise, they will be crushed by disruptive technologies that reshape the industry.

Some more information

History of drugs

The ancient period

The history of the drug industry can be traced to the very beginning of the human race. As far back as 6000 BC, people were using natural substances in an attempt to cure themselves. And since then, this practice went through many stages of development until it became what we know today as the modern pharmaceuticals industry. The big development begins around 325 BC when Aristotle wrote ‘Politics’, which was the first work to describe different systems of government. The book is where Aristotle described how governments use laws and policies to allow or deny access to certain goods. He also explained how these governments would sometimes subsidize drugs that they deemed were safe and effective so that people could afford them. 

The middle ages

During the middle ages, Muslim scientists contributed a lot to drug development. Al-Razi, who wrote his famous book “Al Hawi.” It revolutionized medical treatment at its time. A Persian doctor named Ibn Sina, who is also known as Avicenna. Ibn Sina identified three stages in drug development: theory, demonstration, and application. He also described the difference between conventional and unconventional medical practitioners, in that the latter possessed a superior understanding of the application of drugs for curing diseases.

The modern era

The first practical application of the modern approach to drug discovery and development was made by Paul Ehrlich. In the early 1890s, after studying the therapeutic use of arsenic compounds and other drugs in Europe and at Stanford University, Ehrlich returned to Germany. He set out to develop new dyes for medical use. His first important contribution was Neosalvarsan (the first effective anti-syphilis drug), which he developed from arsenic compounds that had been used by Marie and Pierre Curie in their studies of radioactivity. It was later superseded by treatments using penicillin. The pharmaceutical industry began to emerge in the early 1900s when scientific research and experimentation began to be applied on a large scale for commercial use. More recent development includes the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953, scientists have been hard at work trying to understand how to manipulate it. The first drug created using this technology was human insulin, created in 1978. Since then, scientists have been able to create drugs that are customized to treat specific diseases or situations.

Challenges in the drug industry

Today in the pharmaceutical industry, the challenge is in deciding which the best approach for designing is and producing these injectable products. The role of the drug product in the supply chain is to store, protect and deliver a product that provides benefit to the patient. For pharmaceutical companies, the limitations on time, cost, and dosage form factors are key constraints. To effectively deal with these challenges, companies need to choose an approach based on the manufacturing expertise and technology available. There are several important factors that companies need to consider when deciding on technology choice. Also, many consumers are turning to “natural” medicine, which is made from plants and herbs. This is causing the pharmaceutical industry to lose money because their products are competing with natural products that don’t have any chemicals or artificial ingredients. Some of the reasons behind these challenges include:

  • The increasing competition in the market – The market in the pharmaceutical industry is becoming increasingly competitive. This is because there are more and more companies looking to sell drugs in the market, which means that they are taking away business from the existing companies.
  • The cost of research and development – The costs of drug development have been increasing over time, and many companies are finding it difficult to justify the cost of R&D. The average costs of a single late-stage drug now exceed $2.6 billion, with an additional $1.6 billion needed for the process of approval from the FDA. The cost of research and development in the drug industry is approximately 70-80% of total production costs. The increase in manufacturing costs is mainly due to the rise of material costs due to new technologies and standards. The cost of clinical trials is also high, which involves an average of $100 million per product.
  • The restriction on drug pricing by the government – The United States has a long history of drug pricing regulation. What started as an effort to control prices in the face of high prices for patented drugs, the program has evolved into a regime that is increasingly aimed at setting prices below costs, particularly for innovative products. Over time, the United States has increasingly delegated the task of price regulation to government agencies. Congress has delegated authority for this task to Medicare Part B and Part D, to Medicaid, and increasingly to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), which is now charged with pricing decisions for much of the U.S. population.

Some FAQs

Q – Why is drug pricing different in different countries?

The same drug can have an entirely different price depending on which country you are buying it in. For example, the same generic Parkinson’s drug costs $1,000 in the United States but less than $200 in Spain. This is due to the fact that pharmaceutical companies focus their attention on countries with large populations to make a larger profit. This is because they can charge higher prices and the costs of production and distribution are not as high as they would be if they sold to smaller markets.

Q – Which agency looks after Drug manufacturing?

The FDA is responsible for protecting public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, the nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.

Q – Is it safe to take drugs after expiry dates?

Every drug’s expiry date is meant to reflect the period of time over which the drug will retain its full potency. Taking expired drugs is a big health risk. In fact, some expired drugs can even become toxic. The chemical composition of the drug changes over time which can have adverse effects on your body or worse can cause an allergic reaction.

The Conclusion 

Drug companies are constantly developing new medications for a wide range of conditions and diseases. Now how can drug companies afford to do this? It’s because they make billions off the medications they create and sell every year. It is almost impossible to get a medication approved by the FDA as rules are very tough. Drug companies make billions of dollars each year, and they’re not about to give that up without a fight. The truth is, the healthcare industry is highly profitable, and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Fortunately for a consumer, there are ways to save money on prescription medications by switching to generic drugs or using online websites.

Largest Drug Companies

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