Roche takes No. 1 position in this year’s Top 50 pharmacos

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Acquisitions jump BMS and Takeda into Top 10; Amgen and Gilead fall out

The Pharma Top 50, published by Pharmaceutical Executive and based on data from Evaluate Pharma, appeared recently, with Roche and Novartis nosing past Pfizer to be the top three companies on the list. Rankings are based on pharmaceutical-only sales (excluding OTC and other non-pharma products), using fiscal-year 2019 numbers supplemented by analysis by Evaluate.

Pfizer’s decline is due to a slight decline in sales, combined with significant jumps by Roche and Novartis. Meanwhile, the dramatic rise in rank by BMS and Takeda were due, mostly, to acquisitions: Celgene by BMS for $74 billion, and Shire by Takeda for $62 billion. The acquisition of Allergan by AbbVie, for $62 billion, was only closed in 2020, and so will certainly affect AbbVie’s 2021 ranking.

Amgen, No. 9 in 2019’s ranking, is now No. 12, and Gilead, No. 10 in 2019, is now No. 13. In recent weeks, Gilead has been rumored as both an acquisition target (by AstraZeneca, currently No. 11 on the Pharma Exec list) and buyer of other companies.


The Pharma Exec 50 report includes data on R&D spending and top drug franchises.