By: Claire Wilson. Last Updated: August 2023

Pharmaceutical Training

The United Kingdom is a world-renowned leader in pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing. These industries are well-developed and growing strongly throughout the country.

At present, 7 of the Top Pharmaceutical Companies in the World have a manufacturing presence in the UK alongside a number of the Top Medical Device Companies in the World, including Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic.

If you’ve found yourself looking for a new career and are considering a move into this sector, there are a huge number of companies currently operating here.

BTW, if you are interested in a career in pharmaceutical manufacturing, check out our University Certificate in Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Product Manufacturing

Let’s now take a closer look at the top 10 pharmaceutical and medical device companies manufacturing in the UK

AstraZenega Logo

Area/Products: Pharmaceuticals

Brief History: The company was founded in 1999 through the merger of Swedish company, Astra AB, and the UK Company, Zeneca Group. The company produces a number of pharmaceutical products including anaesthetics and treatments for diabetes and cancer. It employs 83,500 people around the globe and had revenue of $44.4 billion in 2022, making it the 8th biggest pharma company in the world.

Presence in the UK: AstraZeneca currently employs over 8,700 people in the UK. It has 7 locations including their Global HQ in Cambridge and a large manufacturing site in Macclesfield.

Click here to see the vacancies AstraZeneca currently has in the UK

Sanofi Logo

Area/Products: Pharmaceuticals

Brief History: The company in its present form was founded in 2004 after the acquisition of Aventis by Sanofi-Synthélabo. Its Global HQ is in Paris. The company currently produces pharmaceuticals covering disease areas such as cardiovascular, thrombosis and oncology. It is also the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines through its subsidiary company Sanofi Pasteur. Sanofi is the 9th biggest pharma company in the world, reporting 2022 revenue of $40.5 billion and employing 91,000 people around the world.

Presence in the UK: Sanofi has an R&D site in Cambridge and a head office in Reading that employs approximately 500 people.

Click here to see the vacancies Sanofi currently has in the UK

Pfizer Logo

Area/Products: Pharmaceuticals

Brief History: The company was founded in 1849 in the USA and has grown to be the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. It presently develops and produces a number of medicines and vaccines covering disease areas such as oncology and neurology. There are currently over 83,000 employees worldwide and a global revenue of $100.3 billion in 2022.

Presence in the UK: Pfizer has had a presence in the UK since 1952. It is now one of the leading suppliers to the NHS. At present, it employs over 2,500 people in the UK across four sites. This includes a Devices Centre of Excellence in Cambridge and a pilot plant in Sandwich that produces medicines for clinical trials worldwide.

Novartis Logo

Area/Products: Pharmaceuticals & Medical Devices

Brief History: Novartis was formed in 1996 through the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz and is currently headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. It develops and produces a number of drugs, including generic drugs through its division, Sandoz. In 2022, Novartis employed 101,000 people and reported revenues of $50.54 billion.

Presence in the UK: Novartis employs approximately 1,300 people in the UK across a number of locations, including its facility in Grimsby.

Click here to see the vacancies Novartis currently has in the UK

GSK Logo

Area/Products: Pharmaceuticals & Consumer Healthcare

Brief History: GSK was established in 2000 following the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham. It produces a number of drugs and vaccines for the UK market, plus healthcare products such as Sensodyne and Aquafresh toothpaste. Globally, it employs 70,000 people and 2022 revenue was $36.75 billion, making it the 10th biggest pharma company in the world.

Presence in the UK: GSK has a huge presence in the UK, employing over 17,000 people across 10 sites (including manufacturing, R&D and Corporate HQ). 3,500 employees are in direct manufacturing jobs in facilities such as Ulverston in Cumbria and Montrose in Scotland.

Check out the video below taking a look inside the SMART Lab at GSK’s Stevenage facility.

MSD Logo

Area/Products: Pharmaceuticals

Brief History: Founded in Germany in 1668, MSD is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical company. Its current Global HQ is in New Jersey, USA. The company ranked 71 in the Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue in 2022. At present, they employ approximately 69,000 people globally and are one of the leading manufacturers of HIV treatment drugs.

Presence in the UK: MSD currently has 4 sites in the UK. These include the UK Headquarters and a large-scale manufacturing facility in Milton Keynes (the largest veterinary production facility in the UK).

Click here to see the vacancies MSD currently has in the UK

Roche Logo

Area/Products: Pharmaceuticals & Medical Diagnostics

Brief History: Roche was founded in Basel, Switzerland in 1896 – the company is still based in the city. It was one of the first companies to produce synthetically manufactured vitamin-c for healthcare and presently manufactures a number of drugs covering many disease areas. It also develops and manufactures blood glucose meters for diabetes management.

Presence in the UK: Roche has had a UK presence since 1908 and currently have a diagnostics facility in West Sussex and a research and development site in Welwyn Garden City. Across these two sites, it employs nearly 2000 people.

Check out the video below that highlights the careers available with Roche in the UK.

JnJ Logo

Area/Products: Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices & Consumer Healthcare

Brief History: Johnson & Johnson was founded in 1886 and is currently headquartered in New Jersey, USA. The corporation now encompasses over 250 subsidiary companies, with operations in over 60 countries. Its pharmaceutical areas of focus are immunology, neuroscience, infectious disease, and oncology while its medical device areas of focus are in surgical wound care. It is also well known for its consumer health care which includes a number of baby, hair and skin care brands. Based on pharma revenue alone in 2022, the company is the 3rd biggest pharma company in the world.

Presence in the UK: Johnson & Johnson currently employs over 5,000 people in the UK & Ireland, with facilities in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Blackpool, Leeds, London and Middlesex.

Click here to see the vacancies Johnson & Johnson currently has in the UK