Top 15 Pharmaceutical Companies in the World for 2024 ranked by revenue

By: Donagh Fitzgerald B.Prod Eng and Claire Wilson BSc. Last Updated: May 2024

This list is based solely on 2023 pharmaceutical drug and vaccine sales revenue.

Note: For the purpose of ranking, revenues outside of the pharmaceutical drug and vaccine sales were excluded. E.g.

  • Roche’s diagnostics
  • J&J’s Medtech
  • MSD’s animal health
  • Bayer’s crop science and consumer health sales
  • etc.

In addition, we only consider PLCs, not state-owned enterprises such as Sinopharm. For companies reporting in currencies other than USD, conversion to U.S. dollars is based on the exchange rate as of April 26th, 2024.

Revenue in (USD Billions) for 2023 with percentage change from 2022

1. Pfizer (US) – $58.5 billion -41%
2. J&J (US) – $54.80 billion +4%
3. AbbVie (US) – $54.32 billion -6%
4. Merck & Co. (US) – $53.58 billion +3%
5. Roche (Switzerland) – $48.7 billion -2%
6. AstraZeneca (Sweeden/UK) – $45.8 billion +3.3%
8. Novartis (Switzerland) – $45.44 billion -8%
7. Bristol-Myers Squibb (US) – $45.06 billion -2%
9. Sanofi S.A. (France) – $40.56 billion +0.3%
10. GlaxoSmithKline (UK) – $37.76 billion +3.4%
11. Eli Lilly (US) – $34.12 billion +20%
12. Novo Nordisk (Denmark) – $33.30 billion +31.5%
13. Takeda (Japan) – $30.30 billion +3.5
14. Amgen Inc (US) – $28.20 billion +7%
15. Gilead Sciences (US) – $27.12 billion -0.2%

Highlights:

  • Pfizer retains the No.1 position. However, sales dropped from $100.3 billion in 2022 to $58.5 billion in 2023 due to a slowdown in the sales of its COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Novo Nordisk’s revenues increased from $25.40 billion in 2022 to $33.30 billion in 2023 mostly due to demand for its diabetes and obesity products Ozempic and Wegovy.
  • Eli Lilly saw a 20% jump in revenue from $28.54 billion to $34.12 billion mostly due to demand for to demand for its diabetes and obesity products Mounjaro and Zepbound.
  • While Novartis’s total revenue dropped from $50.54 billion to $45.44 billion due to the spin-off of its generics and biosimilar business Sandoz, its core operating revenue grew by 7.7%

Gilead Logo

15. Gilead Sciences (US) 

2023: $27.12 billion
2022: $27.81 billion
2021: $27.30 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D spend: $4.97 billion
Number of employees: 18,000
Revenue per employee: $1,506,000

Gilead was founded in 1987 in California, US and since then, has grown to become one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies. They are a research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative medicines. Gilead Sciences focused on virology, hepatology, haematology, oncology, cardiovascular, inflammation and respiratory diseases.

Ref: Gilead Sciences Annual Report 2023

Amgen Logo

14. Amgen Inc (US) 

2023: $28.20 billion
2022: $24.81 billion
2021: $26.00 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D spend: $4.8 billion
Number of employees: 26,700
Revenue per employee: $1,056,000

Amgen Inc. is an American multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in California, United States and is one of the world’s largest independent biotechnology firm. In 2013, the company’s largest selling product lines were Neulasta/Neupogen, two closely related drugs used to prevent infections in patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy; and Enbrel, a tumor necrosis factor blocker used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. Other products include Epogen, Aranesp, Sensipar/Mimpara, Nplate, Vectibix, Prolia and XGEVA.

Ref: Amgen Inc Annual Report 2023

Takeda Logo

13. Takeda (Japan) 

2023: $30.30 billion (¥4,027.5 billion)
2022: $29.40 billion
2021: $26.28 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D spend: $4.8 billion
Number of employees: 49,600
Revenue per employee: $612,000

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company is a Japanese multinational pharmaceutical company and one of the top 20 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world by revenue (following the merger with Shire). The company is focused on metabolic disorders, gastroenterology, neurology, inflammation, as well as oncology through its independent subsidiary, Takeda Oncology.

Ref: Takeda Annual Report 2023

Novo Nordisk Logo

12. Novo Nordisk (Denmark) 

2023: $33.30 billion (Dkk232,261 million) 
2022: $25.40 billion
2021: $21.00 billion 
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D spend: $4.66 billion
Number of employees: 64,320
Revenue per employee: $458,330

Novo Nordisk is a Danish pharmaceutical company founded in 1923, with global headquarters in the Danish town of Bagsvaerd. Its key products are diabetes care medication. Over 29 million patients use their products and the company produces almost 50% of the world’s insulin. Novo Nordisk’s revenues increase dramatically mostly due to demand for its diabetes and obesity products Ozempic and Wegovy.

Ref: Novo Nordisk Annual Report 2023

Eli Lilly

11. Eli Lilly (US) 

2023: $34.12 billion
2022: $28.54 billion
2021: $28.3 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D Spend: $9.31 billion
Number of Employees: 43,000
Revenue Per Employee: $731,000

Eli Lilly is an American global pharmaceutical company. It was founded by Eli Lilly in 1876 and has its headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana in the United States. The world owes Lilly for the first mass production of Penicillin, Salk Polio vaccine and insulin and is the largest producer and distributor of psychiatric medications in the world. Other drugs produced by Lilly are namely Arzoxifine, Efient, Olanzapine, etc.

Ref: Eli Lilly Annual Report 2023

GSK Logo

10. GlaxoSmithKline plc (UK)

2023: $37.76 billion (£30.30 billion)
2022: $36.75 billion
2021 (Pharmaceutical drug and vaccine sales) revenue: $32.10 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D spend: $8.35 billion
Number of employees: 70,000
Revenue per employee: $539,000

GlaxoSmithKline plc is a multinational company based in the United Kingdom dealing in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biologics, vaccines and consumer healthcare. GSK was formed by the merger of Glaxo Wellcome plc and SmithKline Beecham plc in 2000. It manufactures products for various diseases including mental health, diabetes, asthma, cancer, virus control, etc. GSK also manufactures nutritional products, drinks, and other healthcare goods like Horlicks, Sensodyne, Boost, etc. Its top-selling drug is Advair and is used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder treatment. Although GSK’s total revenue decreased from $44.75 billion in 2021 to $36.75 billion in 2022, that can be attributed to it separating from its consumer health unit Haleon.

Ref: GlaxoSmithKline plc Annual Report 2023

Sanofi Logo

9. Sanofi S.A. (France)

2023 (Pharmaceutical drug and vaccine sales): $40.56 billion (€37.91 billion)
2022 (Pharmaceutical drug and vaccine sales): $40.50 billion
2021 (Pharmaceutical drug and vaccine sales): $36.55 billion
2023 Total: $46.1 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical and vaccine drug sales: 87%
Estimated R&D spend: $7.19 billion
Number of employees: 86,080
Revenue per employee: $534,000

Sanofi is a French multinational pharmaceutical company with its headquarters located in Paris, France. It conducts research and development and manufactures pharmaceutical products sold primarily in the prescription market. Over-the-counter medicines are also developed by the company. Various drugs manufactured by the company include Aflibercept, Jevtana, Humenza vaccine, Iniparib and Otamixaban. Sanofi-Aventis was formed in 2004 by the merger of Aventis and Sanofi-Synthélabo and later in 2011 changed the name to Sanofi.

Ref: Sanofi S.A. Annual Report 2023

Bristol-Myers Squibb Logo

8. Bristol-Myers Squibb (US) 

2023: $45.06 billion
2022: $46.2 billion
2021: $46.4 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D spend: $9,299 billion
Number of employees: 34,050
Revenue per employee: $1,321,000

Bristol-Myers Squibb was formed in 1989 through the merger of the Squibb Corporation and Bristol Myers and Company. Today, it has its headquarters in New York City, US and produces pharmaceuticals and biologics for the treatment of a number of conditions including HIV and hepatitis. They were also one of the first companies to begin research and development into anti-cancer drugs in the 1970s.

Ref: Bristol-Myers Squibb Annual Report 2023

Novartis Logo

7. Novartis International AG (Switzerland)

2023: $45.44 billion
2022: $50.54 billion
2021: $51.60 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D spend: $11.37 billion
Number of employees: 76,000
Revenue per employee: $605,000

Novartis International AG, a multinational pharmaceutical company is based in Basel, Switzerland. Novartis has been on the face of the pharmaceutical industry for about 250 years owing to its formation by the merger of Swiss companies Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz Laboratories in 1996. Novartis produces a range of products including vaccines, contact lenses, over-the-counter drugs, veterinary medicines, etc. Novartis is a manufacturer of drugs including Clozapine, Diclofenac, Carbamazepine, Valsartan (Diovan) and Glivec.In 2023 Novartis sold Sandoz which did lead to a drop in total revenue but boosted revenue per employee by 20%.

Ref: Novartis International AG Annual Report 2023

Astra Zeneca Logo

6. AstraZeneca plc (UK) 

2023: $45.8 billion
2022: $44.4 billion
2021: $37.4 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D spend: $10.9 billion
Number of employees: 89,900
Revenue per employee: $531,700

AstraZeneca plc was founded in 1999, through the merger of the Sweden-based Astra AB and the UK-based Zeneca Group, is a Swedish-British multinational pharmaceutical and biologics company. It specializes in prescriptive medicines including Carbocaine, Naropin, Betaloc, Zestril, Lexinor, Cubicin, Zomig, Tomudex, and a variety of other medicines in the areas of oncology, neuroscience, gastrointestinal, etc. The acid reflux medication called Nexium is its leading product. It is also the manufacturer of drugs for cholesterol treatment called Crestor and an antipsychotic drug called Seroquel.

Ref: AstraZeneca plc Annual Report 2023

Roche Logo

5. Hoffmann-La Roche AG (Switzerland)

2023 (Pharmaceutical Drug Sales): $48.7 billion (CHF44.61 billion)
2022 (Pharmaceutical Drug Sales): $49.9 billion
2021 (Pharmaceutical Drug Sales): $48.47 billion
2023 Total revenue: $64.18 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 72%
Estimated R&D spend: $14.46 billion
Number of employees: 103,600
Revenue per employee: $619,000

Hoffmann-La Roche is a Swiss global healthcare company founded by Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche after whom the company is named, in 1896. Its headquarters is located in Basel, Switzerland. Other companies owned by Roche are Genentech, Chugai pharmaceuticals and Ventana. It was the first company to produce synthetic vitamin C at a large scale under the brand name of Redoxon. Its leading drug is Herceptin a medication for breast cancer. The various drugs produced by Roche include Accutane, Bactrium, Cellcept, Herceptin, Invirase, Tamiflu, Rohypnol, etc. It also manufactures a range of Diabetes management products under the brand name Accu-check.

Ref: Hoffman-La Roche AG Annual Report 2023

Merck Logo

4. Merck & Co., Inc (US)

2023 revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: $53.58 billion
2022 revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: $52.05 billion
2023 total revenue: $60.15 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 87%
Estimated R&D spend: $30.53 billion
Number of employees: 72,000
Revenue per employee: $835,000

Merck & Co., Inc is an American pharmaceutical company with its headquarters located in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. Kenneth Frazier is the chairman, president and CEO of the company and it was founded in 1891 as a subsidiary of Merck KGaA. It came out as an independent company in 1917 after being taken over by the US Government during World War I. In 2023, Merck announced it would acquire Prometheus Biosciences Inc for $10.8 billion.

Ref: Merck & Co, Inc Annual Report 2023

Abbvie Logo

3. AbbVie Inc (US) 

2023: $54.32 billion
2022: $58.00 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D spend: $6,50 billion
Number of employees: 50,000
Revenue per employee: $1,08,000

AbbVie is an American biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 and was formed when Abbott Laboratories announced its plan to separate into two publicly traded companies. It was decided that the “new” Abbott Laboratories would specialize in diversified products including medical devices, diagnostic equipment and nutrition products, while AbbVie would operate as a research-based pharmaceutical manufacturer that specialises in making small molecule drugs for patients worldwide.

The company focuses on therapy areas such as dermatology, oncology, neurological disorders and metabolic diseases.

AbbVie’s most well known for its rheumatoid arthritis med Humira along with Imbruvica, Lupron, Veikira and Synthroid.

Ref: AbbVie Inc Annual Report 2023

JNJ Logo

2. Johnson & Johnson (US)

2023 (Pharmaceutical drug and vaccine sales): $54.80 billion
2022 (Pharmaceutical drug and vaccine sales): $52.60 billion
2021 (Pharmaceutical drug and vaccine sales): $52.80 billion
2023 total revenue: $85.16 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug Sales: 64.3%
Estimated R&D Spend: $14.60 billion
Number of Employees: 134,900
Revenue Per Employee: $634,000

Johnson & Johnson is a US-based multinational company that manufactures medical devices, pharmaceuticals and consumer packaged goods. It was founded in 1886 by Robert wood Johnson I, James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson. The Company’s headquarters is located in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Johnson & Johnson is a leading name in many household items like Johnson & Johnson baby products, Neutrogena skin and beauty products, Band-Aid, Clean and clear facewashes, etc. The other drugs manufactured by it are Bapineuzumab, Ceftobiprole, Dacogen, Procrit, Rivaroxaban, Topamax, etc. In 2023, Johnson & Johnson finalised the separation of its consumer healthcare business sector from its MedTech and Innovation Medicines divisions. This explains the drop in revenue from $95,00 billion in 2022 to $85,16 billion in 2023.

Ref: Johnson & Johnson Annual Report 2023

Pfizer Logo

1. Pfizer Inc (US)

2023: $58.5 billion
2022: $100.3 billion
2021: $81.3 billion
Percent of revenue from pharmaceutical drug sales: 100%
Estimated R&D spend: $13.8 billion
Number of employees: 88,000
Revenue per employee: $664,000

Pfizer is the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company. Its research headquarters are located in Groton, Connecticut, America. Pfizer has developed many medicines and vaccines like Sutent, Zithromax, apixaban, Macugen, Lyrica, Latreperdine, etc. in the areas of oncology, infections and infestations, cardiology, ophthalmology, neurology and psychiatry. Its top-selling product is its Covid 19 vaccine, Comirnaty with sales reaching $37.8 billion in 2022  but dropping to $11.2 billion in 2023. The company was founded in 1849 in New York City by cousins Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart.

Ref: Pfizer Inc Annual Report 2023

Bayer Logo

15. Bayer AG (Germany) 

Revenue from Pharmaceutical Drug Sales: $20.17 billion
Total Revenue: $47.30 billion
Percent of Revenue From Pharmaceutical Drug Sales: 41%
Estimated R&D Spend: $5.95 billion
Number of Employees: 99,637
Revenue Per Employee: $474,000

Bayer, the creators of world-famous drug Aspirin, is a German pharmaceutical company that was established nearly 150 years ago in 1863. Bayer’s best-selling drugs include Xarelto, used to treat blood clots, an injection Eylea, for retina disease and Rennie antacid tablets, one of the biggest selling branded over-the-counter medications in Europe.

Ref: Bayer AG Annual Report 2021

About the Author

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Donagh Fitzgerald

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Donagh looks after the marketing and product development including the training and pedagogical elements of our programs and makes sure that all GetReskilled’s users can have a great online learning experience. Donagh has lived and worked in many countries including Ireland, America, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Donagh has also served as the Program Manager for the Farmleigh Fellowship based out of Singapore.

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Claire has a BSc (Hons) in Medical Biology from Edinburgh University and spent 7 years working in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.