The high demand for safe and effective COVID-19 treatments has caused a sea-change in the pharmaceutical industry — and a dramatically different Pharma 50 list of the largest pharmaceutical companies from the year before.
COVID-19 vaccines reshape the marketplace
Pfizer, along with BioNTech, developed the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine. Comirnaty is already one of the best-selling drugs ever, nearly doubling Pfizer’s revenue to roughly $81 billion in 2021 and rocketing it to the top among the world’s largest pharma companies.
Meanwhile, BioNTech brought in nearly €19.0 billion in revenue in 2021, almost 40 times what it made a year before. As a result, it joined the Pharma 50 at No. 18. Another successful COVID-19 vaccine creator, Moderna, brought in nearly $18.5 billion — 23 times its 2020 revenues — enabling it to join the list at No. 23. Ditto for Sinovac, creator of China’s CoronaVac vaccine. Sinovac’s 2021 revenue was $19.4 billion — 38 times higher than 2020 — winning it a No. 21 spot.
Maintaining that sales momentum may prove impossible given the pandemic’s current trajectory, but expect the industry dynamism to continue. The mRNA technology behind the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines could have many other uses, including for treating cancers and other infectious diseases. On top of that, it’s likely that people will need annual COVID-19 vaccines.
As the pharma landscape continues to evolve, we’ll continue to annually collect data on annual revenue, R&D spend, employee numbers, leadership and more. The pharma giants can be found in a diverse group of countries, including the U.S., China, European Union, Japan, India, UK and more.
Check out our related features related to the largest pharmaceutical companies:
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- The 15 best pharma companies to work for
- 10 leading pharma executives
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- The 22 most innovative biotech products of 2022
And click through our Pharma 50 report’s 2022 listings and learn essential information about the companies powering the global pharmaceutical industry