The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world. There are many different companies that produce a wide range of drugs for all sorts of diseases and ailments. These top 10 biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world have been ranked based on their annual 2020 revenue, as well as their product offerings.

So, without further ado, let us get started with our list!

The world’s biggest pharmaceutical and top ten companies according to 2020 revenue are as follows.

  1. Johnson & Johnson – $82.6bn
  2. Roche – $64.66bn
  3. Novartis – $48.7bn
  4. Merck & Co. – $48bn
  5. AbbVie – $45.804bn
  6. Sanofi – $42.687bn
  7. Pfizer – $41.9bn
  8. GlaxoSmithKline – $40.7bn
  9. Takeda – $30.279bn
  10. Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding – $29.443bn
  1. Johnson and Johnson

It was an exciting year for Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) healthcare portfolio. Composed of pharmaceuticals, consumer health products and medical devices, it saw a 0.3% increase in revenues due to the continued success of its US-based sales group along with acquisitions and divestitures that had a positive impact on growth by 1%. The company also experienced major successes within some areas such as immunology ($13bn), oncology ($10bn) and recently approved prescription drugs like BALVERSA™ (erdafitinib), XARELTO® (rivaroxaban), SPRAVATO®(esketamine).

J&J also has a COVID-19 vaccine through the Ad26® vector technology and PER.C6® manufacturing platform. The vaccine was rolled out but pulled from the market due to potential side effects.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cautioning the public to halt use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine after six women developed a rare, severe condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), which causes blood clots in the brain.

The FDA also cited cases involving low platelet counts as reasons for their warning against using the vaccine.

“We are not telling people who have already been vaccinated that they should be concerned,” said Dr. Sandra Kweder, deputy director of regulatory affairs at FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “But we want them to know about this information so they can talk with their healthcare provider if there are concerns or questions.”

  1. Roche.

Roche’s pharmaceutical division has been producing some of the most innovative and cutting-edge treatments on the market, but it is still experiencing a shrinking presence in Europe. The company reported that revenues have increased 11% year-on-year due to new medicines including Ocrevus, Hemlibra, Tecentriq, Perjeta. Despite this growth potential Roche faces stiff competition from other drug manufacturers with more established presences across European markets like Pfizer or Eli Lilly who can offer cheaper generic versions of their drugs often at no cost for patients which contribute significantly less revenue than branded medications such as Actemra/RoActemera and Esbriet not even mentioning how much worse things look with lower sales numbers.

Competition from biosimilars, particularly MabThera/Rituxan and Herceptin in the US impacted sales by $1.55bn last year; however, things are looking up as 36% growth occurred this quarter due to broader market penetration which is largely attributed to China’s efforts for economic reform plans. The company also reported a 22-percent increase in earnings per share (EPS) with revenue exceeding expectations at £7 billion ($10 BN). A key transaction throughout 2019 was their acquisition of Spark Therapeutics for $4.8bn – along with its groundbreaking gene therapy treatments that have potential applications across multiple fields such as cardiology and ophthalmology.


Novartis saw a 6% year-on-year growth in 2019 revenues, with the innovative medicines’ division contributing 79% of the revenues and Sandoz accounting for 21%. Majority of their revenue was contributed by established markets such as US, Canada Western Europe Japan Australia New Zealand. Key transactions completed include Alcon spin off to form separate business acquisition from Aspen Global Incorporated merger with The Medicines Company. Novartis also acquired Xiidra dry eye medication from Takeda.

Novartis recorded 6 percent yearly growth in its total annual revenues this past fiscal year (2019), which is attributed to an increase contribution made by innovation medicine’s sector -79%, while Switzerland’s largest pharmaceutical company had its other segment contribute only 20.


Merck, a global healthcare company headquartered in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey reported an 11% year-on-year increase in revenues driven by oncology and human health vaccines. International sales led by China contributed more to Merck’s revenue growth than the overall rate of international sale for this pharmaceutical giant. Sales at its Chinese arm increased 47%, with Keytruda (for treatment) and Gardasil/Gardasil 9 driving that figure as these two products were approved last year [in 2019]. In other news from their operations abroad, MERCK received approval for ERVEBO®(Ebola Zaire Vaccine Live), which is now available to protect against Ebola disease caused by ebolavirus.

Merck’s chairman and CEO, Kenneth C. Frazier said that despite extraordinary challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Merck achieved solid growth and made meaningful progress in their pipeline of medicines for patients with cancer or HIV infections. “Our scientists continue to advance our internal pipeline of promising medicines,” he continued “including vaccines against pneumococcal disease.” He went onto say that more recently they have developed therapeutics to treat those infected with COVID-19 – an illness caused by a virus found usually among children but has been spreading rapidly because it is so contagious through saliva contact alone which makes adults susceptible too due its ability to live outside the human body when dried up as well as being airborne.


AbbVie saw a 2.7% increase in revenues last year despite competition from biosimilars for its flagship rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira, which accounted for 58% of the company’s revenue. Other major products including IMBRUVICA, MAVYRET, VENCLEXTA and Creon contributed approximately 30%. In total 71.8% of Abbvies’ business comes from US markets while international sales account for 28%

For the treatment of plaque psoriasis, SKYRIZI was approved in December. AbbVie announced plans to acquire Allergan– a company specialized in medical aesthetics, neuroscience, and women’s health-in April. The acquisition is expected to deliver significant cash flow and diversify its revenue base; it also signed license agreements with Reata Pharmaceuticals for therapies that will be used for various indications such as oncology by Calico Life Sciences (as well) so they can work together while Alector signs an agreement that would help them develop treatments targeted at arthritis drugs.

AbbVie has shown no signs of slowing down, despite the introduction and spread of COVID-19. Research into treatment methods for COVID-19 is still ongoing; AbbVie maintains collaborations in this area with health authorities as well as organizations like NIH or BARDA to develop new therapies that will be able to cure patients from a deadly virus such as COVID-19.


Sanofi’s revenue increased by 4.8% from last year and is largely due to the company’s flagship pharmaceutical products, such as insulin drug Lantus®, deep vein thrombosis medication Lovenox®, and antiplatelet medication Plavix®. 30% of Sanofi sales come from emerging markets like India, China, Brazil, and Mexico which are growing rapidly in a global market that has been relatively flat for some time now.

Sanofi’s innovations and partnerships helped the company grow. For example, Libtayo® was approved for treatment of squamous cell carcinoma while Cablivi®, a product used to treat acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, also saw approval. Sanofi announced that it would be setting up its consumer healthcare business as an independent entity from other parts of their operations with plans to sell some assets involved in this division without giving any specifics on what they might include. The French pharmaceutical giant signed agreements with Roche over the counter (OTC) rights to Tamiflu for flu prevention and treatment along with Eli Lily OTC rights for erectile dysfunction medication Cialis™

Sanofi has not been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic and is continuing to grow on a global scale. They are collaborating with Translate Bio to develop an mRNA vaccine for this new virus; they have also partnered up with Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to create vaccines that could be used during epidemics like these. Sanofi is even teaming up with Luminostics – one of its partners in developing self-testing solutions!


Pfizer has reported a 4% decline in revenues for the first quarter of 2019. The biopharma segment made up 76.2% which is driven by sales from products such as Sulperazon and Lyrica to international markets, including China where Pfizer earned 54%. In contrast, US sales were down due to competitors that provide generic versions of drugs like anti-seizure medication Lyrica at 46%, while not being affected with new business from GSK’s consumer healthcare joint venture.

Mylan and Upjohn have been combined to form a new company, Viatris. Pfizer has acquired Array BioPharma and Therachon Holding for $11.2bn and $340m, respectively . They have also bought AstraZeneca’s small molecule anti-infectives from the deal with them worth 1 billion dollars as well as acquiring Akcea Therapeutics’ investigational antisense therapy ANGPTL3-LRx for yet another 340 million bucks.

Pfizer is a pharmaceutical company that has struggled in the first quarter of 2020 due to its products being locked down and fewer people wanting their services. Pfizer plans on investing $500 million into researching new anti-infective drugs while also focusing on developing COVID19, which will be immunized with BNT162 mRNA vaccines. Phase 2b/3 trials for this vaccine began in July 2020 but regulatory approval is not expected until December 2028 at the earliest, so it is difficult to tell if they are truly effective or not just yet.


GSK’s 10% year-on-year growth in 2019 revenues can be attributed to increased sales of its pharmaceutical and vaccine products. This includes drugs such as Shingrix, a shingles vaccine; respiratory drug Trelegy; HIV medication Dovato and Juluca. Pharmaceuticals/vaccines together accounted for 73% of the company’s revenue while consumer health contributed 26%. However, most of GSK’s US region revenue came from 41%, Europe made up 33%, leaving international markets with 16%.

GSK reports 10 % annual growth in 2019 due to an increase in their pharmaceutical and vaccines division which is largely driven by new product offerings like Shingrix -a vaccination against shingles-, Nucala (

GSK has been very active in the past year, acquiring Tesaro and granting a technology license to Sabin Vaccine Institute for its clinical-stage Ebola vaccines. GSK is yet to ascertain how COVID-19 will impact this company although there are internal and external risks that could end up affecting business performance by 2020. The company collaborates with Sanofi on an adjuvanted vaccine candidate for COVID-19 as well as Vir Biotechnology which identifies new anti-viral antibodies against it, so they have plenty of options when considering treatments or vaccinations going forward. They have also collaborated with University of Queensland, Xiamen Innovax Biotech Clover BioPharmaceuticals and Chongqi over the last few months.


The Takeda company recorded an impressive 56.9% year-on-year increase in revenues, largely due to the acquisition of Shire late last year which has expanded its geographic reach and strengthened its presence in gastrointestinal markets as well as providing access into rare disease and plasma derived therapy markets.

In 2019, Takeda’s gastroenterology products accounted for 21.2% of their total revenue and were followed by rare diseases (15%), immunology (11.5%), neuroscience/psychiatry drugs (~10%) as well as oncological treatments with key prescription medicines such as ENTYVIO, VELCADE IMMUNOGLOBULIN LEUPRORELIN DEXILANT PANTOPRAZOLE accounting to a major portion of the company’s sales in that year ($770 million).

In 2018 companies like Pfizer also saw significant growth across its portfolio which was driven mainly due to acquisitions while Merck experienced losses across all business units from 2017-2018 but notable gains

Takeda has been aggressively shedding its less profitable and more specialized assets, divesting Wako Pure Chemical, Multilab Indústria e Comércio de Produtos Farmacêuticos. It also sold Guangdong Techpool Bio-Pharma to Novartis as well as other OTC products such as Xiidra which was bought by Acino International while Hypera acquired Orifarm Group’s stake in Celltrion.

The fight against COVID-19 has taken on a global scale. Takeda is stepping up to the plate and developing hyperimmune globulin that will help those impacted by this coronavirus in their time of need, while also helping others worldwide who have already recovered from it. If you live in America and would like your plasma donation to be used for research purposes, then please fill out our survey so we can contact you about how best use your blood cells as part of an experimental treatment!

Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding (SPH) 

SPH reports an increase of 17.27% in revenues this year, with 87.4% coming from pharmaceutical services and the rest stemming from manufacturing drugs.

SPH reported a strong revenue growth over last year’s numbers as it posted earnings for 2019 that were up by 17%. The company attributed its success to both their service offerings such as drug quality control testing where they have seen rapid uptake, but also thanks to the growing demand for generics which has helped them stay profitable even during times when there is slack on pharma manufacturers due to shortages or other external factors like tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump.

SPH collaborated with several colleges and universities during the year for the development of new drugs and therapies. It also formed a joint venture with Russian biopharmaceutical company BIOCAD for the development of biopharmaceutical products, as well as signing agreements to in-license medications from Lumosa Therapeutics, Alembic Pharmaceuticals (India), Adia Healthcare Group India Limited., based on research that they had previously conducted. The company completed an acquisition by merger which allowed them to acquire Oncternal Biosciences Inc., Sichuan Guojia Pharmaceutical Technology Company Ltd.’s shares; all this was done while maintaining minority interest in both companies mentioned thus far.

The pharmaceutical giant has been making strides recently through collaborations.

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