Top 11 Pharmaceutical Companies In The World

These organizations are at the forefront of research and spending in the healthcare industry. They pour tons of money into research and reap tons of money from the benefits. There’s more to pharma than COVID vaccines and conspiracy theories, here are the companies that have made a business out of protecting human life.

Johnson & Johnson

This pharmaceutical giant was founded in 1886 when Robert Wood Johnson and his 2 brothers formed a company to provide surgical supplies. Today, the company engages in the research and development, manufacture, and sale of products in the healthcare field. It is divided into the following divisions: Consumer, Pharmaceutical, and Medical Devices. Their consumer segment manufactures some well-known baby care, beauty, and over-the-counter products. The Pharma segment deals in vaccines, immunology, and oncology. Their devices division offers products used in the orthopaedic, surgery, cardiovascular, diabetes care, and eye health fields.


Pfizer Inc. was founded in the year 1849 and is a key player in the research, development, and manufacture of healthcare products. They specialize in medicines, vaccines, and consumer healthcare. German immigrant Charles Pfizer, along with his cousin Charles F. Erhart founded the company upon migrating to New York. In 2021, Pfizer acquired Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, Trillium Therapeutics Inc and Arena Pharmaceuticals as they continue to flex their muscle in the pharma market.


French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi operates as a pharmaceutical company. The Company manufactures prescription pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Sanofi is a key player in the development of heart-related drugs but also focuses on several other fields such as metabolism, bone health, and neurological research. Sanofi serves customers worldwide. Sanofi was founded in 1973, branching out from Elf Aquitaine, a French oil company subsequently acquired by Total, when Elf Aquitaine took control of the Labaz group, a pharmaceutical company formed in 1947.


Roche is a Swiss pharmaceutical company that bears the slogan, “Doing now what patients need next”.  In 1896 Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche founded the company which was initially known to produce vitamin preparations and derivatives. Nowadays, Roche focuses on blood or tissue sample testing (in-vitro) as well as cancer and transplantation drug research. It has interests in the fields of oncology and virology and leads research in inflammation, metabolism, CNS, clinical chemistry, immunology, urinalysis, blood screening, genetics, infectious diseases, and microbiology.


Novartis AG is yet another Swiss pharmaceutical company that engages in the development, manufacture, and marketing of healthcare products. The Basel-based company was formed in March 1996, when the agrochemical division of Ciba-Geigy merged with Sandoz; to form a standalone entity. Novartis also invests heavily in agriculture and the development of GMO crops in association with AstraZeneca. It holds the third stake of Roche shares, the other Swiss company on the list.


Takeda is a Japanese pharmaceutical company with strong American and British roots. It is, by many metrics,  the largest pharma company in Asia and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world by revenue. Takeda researches digestive issues, metabolic disorders, neuronal links, inflammatory disorders, and oncology. It has been ranked in the top 100 companies to work for in the USA.

Merck & Co.

Merck & Co Inc. is an American company based in Kenilworth, New Jersey. It is named after the German Merck family, which founded the Group in Germany in 1668. In 2021, the company ranked 69th on the Fortune 500 and 92nd on the Forbes Global 2000, testament to their size and influence. Merck and Co. made a huge contribution to society by providing the first commercially distributed smallpox vaccine. The company currently operates through two divisions: Pharmaceutical and Animal Health.


Abbvie is a research-based biopharmaceutical company from the USA, founded on the 19th of October, 2011, as an offshoot of Abbott Laboratories. They have a strong focus on immunology and the study of cancer (oncology). The Chicago-based pharmaceutical company ranked 68th on the 2021 fortune 500, bolstered by sales of its new psoriasis medicine Skyrizi.


Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham merged in the year 2000 to form British pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline. Headquartered in London, the company usually ranks highly in the Global Access to medicines index and is known for its philanthropic deeds. The company broke through to develop the first malaria vaccine, named RSK in 2014. This was done in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. GSK constantly features in the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies according to Forbes.


Bayer, in full Bayer AG, is a German chemical and pharmaceutical company founded in 1863 by Friedrich Bayer, and Johann Friedrich Weskott. They are driven to manufacture products that contribute to the “wellness of People and Plants”. Bayer has a major influence in the fields of pharmaceuticals, consumer healthcare products, agricultural chemicals, seeds, and biotechnology products. Fun fact; Bayer trademarked the common drug Aspirin in 1899 and the notoriously harmful Heroin in 1898.


Abbott Laboratories is a U.S. pharmaceutical company that has developed and manufactures a diversified portfolio of healthcare products. Wallace Calvin Abbott, a physician from Chicago founded the company in 1888. Abbott is a big player well-known for its pediatric and adult nutrition field, with brands such as Pedialyte, Ensure, Glucerna, and Similac under its umbrella. It ranks highly in adult nutrition research and blood testing, with its new 24/7 blood glucose monitoring device (FreeStyle Libre) driving the company’s sales for diabetes products to grow year by year.


If there is a field with enormous potential for growth it has to be pharmaceuticals. The populace is growing ever more knowledgeable and concerned with their health. Pharmaceutical companies are only expected to continue growing in line with demands to live healthier and longer.

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