5 Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies


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The Investing News Network breaks down the five biggest pharmaceutical companies within the sector by market cap size.

The biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world are responsible for developing and manufacturing the vast majority of prescription drugs.

As defined by Encyclopedia Britannica, the pharmaceutical sector involves “the discovery, development, and manufacture of drugs and medicines by public and private organizations.”

Pharma companies are developing innovative drugs in areas like immuno-oncology and neurology, as well as novel drugs for a range of rare diseases. The need for the industry is great — the pharmaceutical sector is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.7 percent between 2020 and 2026 to reach a staggering US$1.4 trillion in total revenue.

What’s the best place for interested investors to start? Those interested in the pharmaceutical market can certainly benefit by knowing which companies are the major players in the space.

With that in mind, here are the five biggest drug companies by market cap size. Data for this article was compiled using Investing.com’s stock screener on March 24, 2021. The pharmaceutical stocks included are listed in order of market cap size from largest to smallest.

1. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)

Market cap: US$425.32 billion

Starting off this list of the biggest pharmaceutical companies is Johnson & Johnson, a holding company focused on the overarching life science field. Life science companies often specify their focus, but thanks to its massive scale, Johnson & Johnson covers many areas through its subsidiaries.

In terms of pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson’s treatment focus is on six therapeutic areas: cardiovascular disease and metabolism, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, oncology, immunology and pulmonary hypertension.

2. Roche Holding (OTCQX:RHHBY)

Market cap: US$286.7 billion

Roche Holding is one of the largest biotech companies in the field. Its reach expands into oncology, immunology, ophthalmology and diseases related to the central nervous system. The company has more than 90,000 employees spanning 100 countries around the globe. Roche boasts that it spends approximately 9 billion Swiss francs on research and development each year.

The pharmaceutical division of its business is focused on developing medicines for areas with unmet needs, such as oncology, immunology, opthalmology, infectious diseases and neuroscience.

3. Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT)

Market cap: US$210.46 billion

Abbott Laboratories has developed a number of medical technologies for use across a wide range of healthcare needs, including diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and branded generic medicines.

Abbott specializes in cardiovascular, diabetes and neuromodulation products. The healthcare company is also recognized around the world for its pediatric and adult nutrition brands, including Pedialyte, Ensure, Glucerna and Similac.

4. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)

Market cap: US$199.92 billion

Another giant in the medical world, Pfizer is active in the development of multiple healthcare products. The major pharmaceutical company’s areas of focus include medical disciplines such as immunology, oncology, cardiology, endocrinology and neurology.

The company operates its commercial divisions under two segments: Pfizer Innovative Health and Pfizer Essential Health. The former focuses on medicines and vaccines that directly improve patient lives and products for consumer healthcare, while the latter is focused on therapeutic areas such as internal medicine, vaccines, oncology, inflammation and immunology, rare diseases and consumer healthcare.

5. Novartis (NYSE:NVS)

Market cap: US$194.33 billion

Novartis is a healthcare company based in Switzerland. It has been in business since 1996 via the merger of Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy; the two companies combined have a history dating back more than 200 years.

Novartis prides itself on drugs that are manufactured for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, age-related macular degeneration, osteoporosis and more. The Sandoz division of the pharma company produces over 1,000 different generic medicines and biosimilars. For its part, the Alcon division focuses on eyesight and related products. Novartis also employs 6,000 scientists and physicians to further its research and development in the field.

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

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

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