If you google “pharma news” you’ll find an impressive number of websites dedicated to the latest news in the pharma industry, covering an impressive number of players, some new, others well-established. But who are the leaders, the companies that set new directions while changing people’s lives during the process?
Here are some interesting pieces of information on 5 of the largest pharma companies in the world.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
Revenue: 70.07 billion USD (2015)
Johnson & Johnson is the largest pharma company in the world. It was founded in the US in 1886 by the three Johnson brothers Robert, James, and Edward who initially only focused upon producing antiseptics in order to prevent illness and death. Consequently, Johnson & Johnson was the first company to produce first aid kits, as well as sanitary products for women, dental floss, and commercial dressings for small wounds.
Today, Johnson & Johnson has more than 127,000 employees in over 57 countries. The company’s focus in now upon 3 major areas: pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and consumer products. J&J has manufactured innovative products Band-Aid, Tylenol, Rogaine, Johnson’s baby products, and Neutrogena skin care.
Revenue: 49.41 billion USD (2015)
Novartis, the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world, was founded in Switzerland in 1996 following the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz, two Swiss companies founded over 250 years ago. Novartis is known to be one of the biggest pharma spenders on research, investing over $9.9 billion in R&D.
The company has over 118.000 employees and is currently divided into 3 operating divisions:
Pharmaceuticals, Alcon (eye care) and Sandoz (generics). While its generics business is the second largest in the world, Novartis is number one when it comes to its Its eye care division. Novartis’s best-selling drug is Gleevec which generated sales of USD 4.7 billion in 2015 alone.
Revenue: 48.85 billion USD (2015)
Pfizer was founded in the US in 1849, which makes it one of the oldest pharma companies in the world. The company started very small. It was founded by cousins Charles Pfizer, a chemist, and Charles Erhart, a confectioner, with money borrowed from Pfizer’s father. The two soon developed their first product, an antiparasitic dubbed santonin, that was used to treat intestinal worms. The drug turned out to be a real success.
Pfizer developed many well-known pharmaceutical drugs such as antidepressant Zoloft, lowering blood cholesterol drug Lipitor, and Viagra, a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. The company has over 78.000 employees and a profit margin that makes it the most profitable pharma company in the world.
Revenue: 50.856 billion USD (2015)
The company was founded by Fritz Hoffman-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland in 1896 during the European industrial revolution. During its first years, it successfully produced the first in a series of thyroid medications, as well as a non-prescription cough syrup dubbed Sirolin. After the World Wars, Roche became the first company to mass-produce synthetic vitamin C.
With over 88.000 employees, the company operates two segments – pharmaceuticals and diagnostics – and sells its products in over 190 countries. Roche’s prescription drugs include cancer therapies MabThera/Rituxan and Avastin, Perjeta and Kadcyla for HER2-positive breast cancer, hepatitis drug Pegasys, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis drug Esbriet, macular degeneration therapy Lucentis, and Tamiflu, which is used to prevent and treat influenza (including pandemic strains).
Revenue: 46.32 billion EUR
Bayer was founded in Germany in 1863 and it became renowned through its iconic product Aspirin which was developed in 1897. A year later, the company started the commercialization of heroin as a cough suppressant and a substitute for morphine.
Bayer’s lost its assets and trademarks during WW II as part of America’s campaign against Germany. It was only in 1978 that the company brought back its business in the US.
Nowadays, Bayer has over 116,000 employees and its key products include analgesics such as Bayer Aspirin and Aleve, food supplements Redoxon and Berocca, and skincare products Bepanthen and Bepanthol.
These are the top 5 pharma companies that probably everyone has heard of. They are closely followed by Merck, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Gilead Sciences.
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