May 26, 2024

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Which pharma giant will be the most profitable in 2021?

Which pharma giant will be the most profitable in 2021?


Which pharma giant will be the most profitable in 2021?  FiercePharma announces the TOP 20 list of revenue!

On April 12, FiercePharma announced its “Top 20 Pharma Companies by Revenue in 2021”, with 12 seeing sales growth of at least 10%, and five of them seeing sales growth of at least 40%. Notably, Pfizer will benefit the most from COVID products in 2021, nearly doubling.

  1. John & John
  2. Pfizer
  3. Roche
  4. AbbVie
  5. Novartis
  6. Merck & Co.
  7. Bristol-Myers Squibb
  8. GlaxoSmithKline
  9. Sanofi
  10. AstraZeneca


J&J relies on revenue growth in its health segment to comfortably rank ahead of Pfizer and maintain the top spot it has held since 2012. But that dominance is in jeopardy this year, as Pfizer expects total sales of $54 billion, largely from Comirnaty and its oral COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid.


Fourth-ranked AbbVie was also up notably, posting a significant revenue increase of 23% excluding COVID-19 drugs, but breaking the $20 billion mark for the first time with a standout Humira.


Another company that had success on a key drug was No. 6 Merck & Co., which saw revenue rise 17%, thanks in large part to Keytruda sales.


Surprisingly, in 2021, none of the top 20 companies experienced a revenue decline. The smallest gainers were Amgen (2%) and Novartis (4%), while every other company on the list had gains of at least 5%.


Comparing 2021 with 2020 when the epidemic is raging, it is not difficult to see that the landscape of the industry has changed dramatically.


In 2020, 6 of the top 20 companies saw revenue declines. Only two companies grew more than 10%, and those companies owed their gains almost entirely to major acquisitions. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s sales rose 63% thanks to its acquisition of Celgene, while AbbVie’s 38% increase in revenue was attributable to its acquisition of Allergan.


Another sales comparison: The 20th-ranked company, Astellas Japan, had sales of $11.5 billion in 2020, while the 20th-ranked company in 2021 was Viatris, with sales of $17.8 billion.


Viatris is one of three companies to enter the top 20 for the first time, with the other two entering the list with COVID-19 vaccine sales, Moderna at No. 18 and BioNTech at No. 19.


Also falling out of the top 20 in 2021 was Biogen, whose revenue plunged 18% as an expected surge in sales of controversial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm failed to materialize.


Another company that fell out of the top 20 was Astellas, whose revenue fell 8%.


Which pharma giant will be the most profitable in 2021?  FiercePharma announces the TOP 20 list of revenue!




1. Johnson & Johnson

2021 revenue: $93.77 billion
2020 revenue: $82.58 billion


Which pharma giant will be the most profitable in 2021?  FiercePharma announces the TOP 20 list of revenue!


Johnson & Johnson has been a top pharma company for many years. And, despite being beaten by Pfizer in 2021, J&J will be able to hold off its big pharma rivals and retain the top spot.


Johnson & Johnson’s global revenue was $93.77 billion last year, up sharply from 2020. Its three main segments, consumer healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, all contributed to revenue growth.


Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical division generated the most revenue by far, accounting for $52 billion in total company-wide revenue. That’s up 13.6% from 2020 as the company relies on multiple myeloma drug Darzalex, immunology blockbuster Stelara and its COVID-19 vaccine for growth.


Darzalex’s revenue rose 44% last year to more than $6 billion, while Stelara’s sales rose 18.5% to more than $9 billion. And, while the company’s COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t quite as blockbuster as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA products, it still contributed meaningfully to J&J’s $2.4 billion in sales.


Other growth contributions from the pharma segment came from the prostate cancer drug Erleada and the schizophrenia franchise, where revenue rose 70% and 10%, respectively, last year. On the other hand, declining sales of Remicade remain a drag after the drug lost its U.S. franchise in 2015.


Aside from its pharmaceutical performance, the fastest-growing segment last year was Johnson & Johnson’s medical device division. Johnson & Johnson’s devices group posted $27 billion in sales last year, up nearly 17%, as business rebounded from 2020’s pandemic lows.


Consumer healthcare is the smallest of the three categories, with 2021 sales of $14.64 billion, up just 4% compared to 2020.


Of the company’s $93.77 billion in total revenue, J&J generated nearly $21 billion in earnings, up 42% from $14.7 billion in 2020.


While J&J managed to retain its top-grossing status in the industry in 2021, that could change in 2022 as Pfizer follows. After generating $81 billion in sales last year, more than $30 billion of which came from its COVID-19 vaccine program, Pfizer expects sales in 2022 to be about $100 billion.


Pfizer expects about half of that to come from its COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty and oral antiviral drug Paxlovid.



2. Pfizer

2021 revenue: $81.29 billion
2020 revenue: $41.9 billion


Which pharma giant will be the most profitable in 2021?  FiercePharma announces the TOP 20 list of revenue!


Last year, Pfizer’s wildly successful COVID-19 vaccine generated $37 billion in revenue, nearly half of the $81.3 billion Pfizer recorded in 2021.


In addition to Comirnaty, which is partnering with BioNTech, Pfizer is also battling COVID-19 with its antiviral drug Paxlovid. The company expects Comirnaty and Paxlovid to generate $54 billion in combined sales in 2022, with Comirnaty contributing $32 billion.


Even excluding COVID-19 products, Pfizer’s full-year revenue rose 6% last year to $44.4 billion.


But despite Comirnaty’s 2021 success, some of Pfizer’s other best-selling vaccines have suffered as countries prioritize COVID-19 immunization. In the fourth quarter, for example, Pfizer’s Prevnar pneumococcal vaccine, once its best-selling product, saw global sales slump 25%.


While Pfizer has been an unstoppable force of late, the company faces a series of patent expirations starting in 2025. That year, the intellectual property protections of Inlyta and Xeljanz will lapse, and then the patents of Eliquis, Ibrance and Xtandi may be lost.


3. Roche

2021 revenue: CHF 62.8 billion ($68.7 billion)
2020 revenue: CHF 58.32 billion ($63.36 billion)


Which pharma giant will be the most profitable in 2021?  FiercePharma announces the TOP 20 list of revenue!


In 2021, sales of the Swiss pharma’s top three cancer drugs Avastin, Herceptin and Rituximab fell by CHF 4.5 billion ($4.9 billion). Roche warned that another 2.5 billion Swiss francs could be added this year.


Last year, Roche’s drug sales rose 3% in constant currency to CHF 45 billion, with the lion’s share of growth coming from multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus, hemophilia drug Hemlibra, inflammatory disease treatment Actemra and PD-L1 inhibition Agent Tecentriq.


Ocrevus’ sales growth slowed as some patients delayed B-cell-depleting therapy to maintain immune defenses against COVID or get vaccinated. Overall MS treatment conversion rates remain below pre-pandemic levels, Bill Anderson, head of Roche Pharma, told investors on a February conference call.


On the other hand, Actemra, a well-established product first approved by the FDA in 2010 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, saw sales increase by 27% to CHF 3.6 billion in 2021 thanks to the authorization to treat hospitalized patients with severe COVID .


Also in the COVID space, Ronapreve, an antibody cocktail in partnership with Regeneron, brought in CHF 1.6 billion from Roche’s former US territory. But as Ronapreve loses power against the dominant omicron variant, its future is in question. Through at least 2022, Roche expects sales of Ronapreve to remain stable.


In the oncology segment, Tecentriq’s U.S. sales took a hit as the FDA withdrew its indications for PD-L1-positive triple-negative breast cancer and previously treated bladder cancer as the FDA reviewed accelerated approval for failure to deliver in confirmatory trials. . But the drug also became the first immunotherapy to be approved as an adjuvant treatment after surgery for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer.


Although Tecentriq is approved for PD-L1-positive stage II to IIIA disease, doctors have expressed doubts about its weak efficacy in people with low PD-L1 expression. According to forecasts, Tecentriq has the potential to reach 1 billion to 2 billion Swiss francs.

Two of Roche’s antibody-drug conjugates, Kadcyla, which targets HER2, and Polivy, which targets CD79b, have the opposite story in 2021. While Polivy became the first drug in more than 20 years to significantly improve outcomes in previously untreated diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, Kadcyla lost to AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s Enhertu in second-line HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.


4. AbbVie

2021 revenue: $56.2 billion
2020 revenue: $45.8 billion


AbbVie has been pushing Humira’s annual sales to the $20 billion mark for years. While it finally crossed that threshold last year, its biosimilars are fast approaching.


For AbbVie, that means 2022 and 2023 could be transition years for the drugmaker as it works to build markets for its Humira successors, Rinvoq and Skyrizi.


As for 2021, AbbVie reported full-year sales of $56.2 billion, up 22% from 2020. Of 2021 sales, $20.7 billion will come from immunology superstar Humira, which faces a flurry of biosimilar competition next year.


That vulnerability is why AbbVie is so focused on putting its marketing power behind Rinvoq and Skyrizi. The drugs are FDA-approved to treat psoriatic arthritis, atopic dermatitis, ulcerative colitis and plaque psoriasis and are expected to generate $15 billion in revenue by 2025.


That’s why AbbVie paid $63 billion for Allergan in 2019. With the deal, the company strengthens its presence across multiple disease areas and adds aesthetics-savvy Botox.


As for Humira, the company hasn’t released its expectations for the pace of the upcoming sales decline. Beginning in January, and increasingly over the next year, the drug will face imitative pressure. It already faces biosimilar challengers in Europe, causing sales there to fall 10% to $3.3 billion.


5. Novartis

2021 revenue: $51.63 billion
2020 revenue: $48.66 billion


Anti-inflammatory biologic Cosentyx and heart drug Entresto remain Novartis’ top-selling drugs and key growth drivers in 2021, with sales of $4.72 billion and $3.55 billion, respectively.


Entresto’s sales rose 40% due to expansion into heart failure in patients with preserved ejection fraction with subnormal left ventricular ejection fraction. Although Novartis expects annual peak sales of Entresto to exceed $5 billion, the Swiss drugmaker is already drawing up plans for Entresto to lose patent protection after 2025.


In the cardiovascular disease unit, Novartis survived previous FDA rejections and launched Leqvio, a physician-administered cholesterol drug that has a dosing frequency advantage over its self-injecting rival PCSK9 drug. Novartis is taking a population-level approach to health, working with large healthcare systems to identify patients.


Meanwhile, sales of Zolgensma, a gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy in its third year on the market, climbed 46% to $1.35 billion in 2021. Novartis recently overcame the FDA’s clinical hold on Zolgensma and launched the Phase 3 STEER trial in hopes of bringing the one-time treatment to older patients.


Novartis’ oncology business has seen some mixed results that may have started to hurt sales.


Kisqali becomes the first CDK4/6 inhibitor to show a statistically significant life-extending benefit in first-line treatment of postmenopausal women with HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. This year, Kisqali may have data from the most important ancillary study, called NATALEE. Novartis’ drug, which still has less than $1 billion in sales in 2021, is competing fiercely with Pfizer’s entrenched Ibrance and Eli Lilly’s fast-growing Verzenio.


Last year, Novartis unveiled the surprising failure of Kymriah in second-line B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, effectively eliminating the drug’s potential for any major future growth, especially as a rival CAR-T therapy, Namely Yescarta of Gilead Sciences and Breyanzi of Bristol Myers Squibb, the launch was successful. Although Novartis knows why Kymriah failed, it is turning to next-generation CAR-T technology.


Also in oncology, Novartis continued its legacy in chronic myeloid leukemia with FDA nod for Scemblix. The company’s two existing drugs in the region, Gleevec and Tasigna, were down 15% and up 4%, with sales of $1.02 billion and $2.06 billion, respectively.


Novartis’ ambitions to repurpose inflammatory disease drug Ilaris into cancer treatment have suffered a double whammy after the IL-1beta antibody failed in both previously treated and newly diagnosed non-small cell lung cancer. But the company believes the drug still has an opportunity for adjuvant therapy.


In 2022, Novartis’ mergers and acquisitions will be the focus. The company still has some cash after selling its stake in Roche for $20.7 billion and launching a $15 billion share repurchase program. It’s also trying to determine Sandoz’s future; sales at its generics business fell 2% in 2021 to $9.6 billion.


6. Merck & Co.

2021 revenue: $48.7 billion
2020 revenue: $48 billion


Revenue growth in 2021 is no small feat for Merck, as it’s a year in which Big Pharma is waving goodbye to a product with $6.3 billion in 2021 sales.


The COVID-19 oral antiviral drug Molnupiravir wasn’t approved for use in the U.S. until Dec. 23, but the pre-sale agreement helped it hit $952 million in fourth-quarter sales.


Immuno-oncology superstar Keytruda was on hand, with sales rising 20% ​​to $17.2 billion from $14.4 billion. Gardasil bounced back nicely after a pandemic-ravaged 2020, when fewer doctor visits hampered vaccine revenue. HPV vaccine revenue was $5.7 billion, a 44% increase from its $3.9 billion figure.


Sales of muscle relaxant Bridion rose 28 percent to $1.5 billion. Sales of ovarian cancer drug Lynparza rose 36% to $989 million. Merck’s animal health division also contributed to an 18 percent increase in revenue, with sales rising to $5.6 billion from $4.7 billion.


Merck posted an eighth straight year of revenue growth, with sales expected to be between $56.1 billion and $57.6 billion. This should be the first time the company has crossed the $50 million mark. Molnupiravir accounted for most of the growth, as Merck sees sales of COVID-19 pills in the $5 billion to $6 billion range.


However, there is still a lot of uncertainty for Merck beyond 2022. It’s hard to imagine molnupiravir continuing to maintain the company’s expected performance, especially as Pfizer’s Paxlovid showed better efficacy.


As for Keytruda, it’s on track to become the world’s best-selling drug once the COVID-19 vaccine wears off. Considering Merck is testing more than 30 cancer types, the number of FDA approvals for PD-1 inhibitors stands at 38 and shows no signs of slowing down, according to a recent SEC filing.


But Merck’s downside is its over-reliance on Keytruda. Can Keytruda’s current shallow pipeline deepen by 2028 when it loses patent protection? In Keytruda’s golden years, the company’s key could be turning windfalls into savvy M&A deals that help Merck diversify.


7. Bristol-Myers Squibb

2021 revenue: $46.4 billion
2020 revenue: $42.5 billion


Like AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb is going through a period of transition. Both companies have recently completed major mergers, and both are now gearing up to increase copycat competition for their best-selling drugs.


For Bristol, the company’s successor to Celgene’s Revlimid has faced its first generic challenger since early March. The drug generated $12.82 billion last year, or 27.6% of total revenue, so investors will be watching its decline closely.


Global sales of Revlimid are expected to reach $9.5 billion to $10 billion in 2022. Each year thereafter, the company expects to cut between $2 billion and $2.5 billion.


Hope to fill this gap with a series of new products. The company entered the cell therapy space last year, with Breyanzi approved in February 2021 for certain lymphomas, and multiple myeloma cell therapy Abecma in March 2021. There are also high hopes for the anemia drug Rebrozyl, which is approved for myelodysplastic syndromes and beta thalassemia.


In addition to these drugs, the company is also seeking approval in 2022 for deucravicitinib, a potential treatment for psoriasis. Bristol just received FDA nod for its new checkpoint inhibitor pair, Opdualag, which could also treat certain melanoma patients.


The company said its newly launched product portfolio could bring in $25 billion or more by 2029. The four drugs in this group — Rebrozyl, deucravicitinib, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy treatment mavacamten and immuno-oncology prospect relatlimab — alone or in combination, could reach peak sales of more than $4 billion, BMS said.


BMS expects Opdivo and Eliquis to continue to grow in the coming years. The company expects an additional $8 billion to $10 billion in annual growth through 2025 for its immuno-oncology giants Opdivo and Yervoy and blood thinner Eliquis, executives said at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference earlier this year.


8. GlaxoSmithKline

2021 revenue: £36 billion ($45.98 billion)
2020 revenue: £34.1 billion ($43.78 billion)


Since GlaxoSmithKline swapped its oncology assets for most of Novartis’ vaccine products in 2014, the British pharma giant’s revenue has climbed from a bottoming mark of $36.6 billion every year.


In 2021, GSK achieved its largest annual incremental growth of $2.2 billion during the period, a 5% increase over 2020.


GSK’s strong performance in 2021 was aided by higher sales of its COVID-19 antibody treatment sotrovimab, which it partnered with Vir Biotechnology, to 958 million pounds ($1.26 billion), 89% of which came in the fourth quarter.


GSK’s other two drugs have sales of more than $1 billion in 2021. Trelegy, which treats asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, generated £1.2bn ($1.6bn) in sales, while Nucala, which treats asthma and similar conditions, brought in £1.14bn ($1.5bn).


The demonstrations have helped GSK overcome the underperformance of vaccines that have been slow to recover from the pandemic. Sales of Shingrix shingles were £1.72bn ($2.27bn), down from £1.99bn ($2.62bn) in 2020.


As for 2022, GSK said it expects biopharma sales to grow 5% to 7%. The company expects sales of sotrovimab to reach 1.4 billion pounds ($1.83 billion), but also said the emergence of Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral antiviral drug Paxlovid made future demand for the antibody uncertain.


GSK did see a rebound for Shingrix, though, especially after the pandemic. It forecasts that sales will double by 2026.


9. Sanofi

2021 revenue: €37.76 billion ($44.67 billion)
2020 revenue: €36.04 billion ($39.3 billion)


Sanofi’s full-year 2021 sales rose 7.1 percent to 37.76 billion euros ($44.67 billion). Sales of immunology drugs were 5.25 billion euros (about 6 billion U.S. dollars), while Sanofi’s preventive sales were 6.3 billion euros (about 7.2 billion U.S. dollars) for the full year.


Although Sanofi’s vaccine business maintained its lead, global flu vaccine sales fell 12.4% in the fourth quarter, generating approximately $1.24 billion. The situation was even more dire in the U.S., where flu sales plummeted 48.3% over the same period. Sanofi’s U.S. flu vaccine sales fell 13.6% for the year.


Meanwhile, things look more optimistic for Dupixent, as Sanofi’s blockbuster waits to hit its target of 10 billion euros in sales halfway through.


The company said last year that this was due to Dupixent’s control in atopic dermatitis, as well as its “continued uptake” in asthma and chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps. At the same time, the drug can also be used to treat chronic spontaneous urticaria, prurigo nodularis and eosinophilic esophagitis. These indications have 500,000 potential patients enrolled in the Dupixent treatment pool in the United States alone.


Dupixent is doing so well in 2021 that, in fact, Sanofi’s €10 billion target announced just last month was too low. The French drugmaker raised its top sales target for its medicines to more than 13 billion euros ($14.44 billion). Sanofi said that target could increase if expected data readings for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease next year go well.


10. AstraZeneca

2021 revenue: $37.42 billion
2020 revenue: $26.62 billion


AstraZeneca’s 2021 revenue got a huge boost from sales in the last half-year of Alexion, which completed a $39 billion acquisition last July.


Alexion’s rare disease franchises, C5 inhibitors Soliris and Ultomiris, added $3.1 billion to AZ’s revenue last year. Since the acquisition, sales of both drugs have grown 8% in the same period in 2020. Alexion CEO Marc Dunoyer told investors on a February conference call that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the conversion of Soliris recipients to Ultomiris. But he added that geographic expansion and potential new approvals for neurological diseases like myasthenia gravis could drive Ultomiris’ next phase of growth.


Aside from rare diseases, AZ’s largest oncology portfolio accounted for the lion’s share of the growth. The division’s four blockbusters, EGFR inhibitor Tagrisso, PD-L1 blocker Imfinzi, Merck partnered PARP inhibitor Lynparza and BTK blood cancer drug Calquence, all ended the fourth quarter with double-digit sales growth .


Tagrisso crossed the $5 billion threshold in part due to FDA approval as an adjuvant treatment for EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer after surgery.


HER2 antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu delivered $214 million for AZ, mainly including collaboration revenue from partner Daiichi Sankyo. The drug is on track to make a key advance in second-line HER2-positive breast cancer after it surpassed Roche’s rival drug Kadcyla in Phase III. The FDA’s priority review has set a decision date for this indication in the second quarter.


Outside oncology, SGLT2 drug Farxiga grew 49% in constant currency to $3 billion in sales. Best-in-class products in heart failure and chronic kidney disease over the past two years have helped drive Fraxiga’s sales growth ahead of the SLGT2 category.


COVID-19 products also contributed. AZ’s vaccine Vaxzevria brought in $3.9 billion in sales last year after the world’s first authorization in the U.K. in late 2020, although the vaccine hasn’t made it to the U.S. In December, the FDA approved AZ’s long-acting COVID antibody cocktail Evusheld as an immune Prevention methods for the underprivileged.


However, AZ expects total revenue from COVID drugs to decline 20% to 20% percent in 2022, as Evusheld’s growth won’t offset Vaxzevria’s decline.


11. Takeda

2021 revenue: 3,466 billion yen ($31.55 billion)
2020 revenue: 3,128 billion yen ($29.25 billion)




Takeda has been marking 2021 as an “inflection year” after the Japanese drugmaker sold some “non-core” assets to narrow its focus and pay down debt from its massive Shire acquisition.


For the nine months ended December 2021, Takeda reported revenue of 2,696 billion yen, of which 133 billion yen came from the sale of four diabetes drugs in Japan to local company Teijin Pharma. After excluding the impact of the sale and some other divestitures and currency adjustments, Takeda said its underlying growth was 7.1% over the period.


Takeda’s best-selling inflammatory bowel disease drug, Entyvio, remains a major growth engine. In the first three quarters of last year, the drug’s sales were 395.4 billion yen, a year-on-year increase of 23.8%.


Sales of aging multiple myeloma drug Velcade rose a surprising 11.3 percent to 84.5 billion yen during the period. Takeda attributed the increase to relatively low year-over-year comparisons, when physicians preferred oral medications to infusions or injections in the early days of COVID-19, as well as increased use of Velcade in combination therapy for newly diagnosed patients with Velcade in the U.S. in several The region has been under GM pressure and recently lost exclusivity in the US market.


In contrast, Takeda’s novel oral myeloma drug Ninlaro grew only 4.2% due to a strong base in 2020. The drug’s sales from April to December were 70.7 billion yen.


Elsewhere, in rare diseases, Takeda’s hereditary angioedema franchise grew 10.7% in nine months, largely thanks to Takhzyro, which accounted for 67% of the portfolio’s 117.7 billion yen in sales.


12. Eli Lilly

2021 revenue: $28.32 billion
2020 revenue: $24.54 billion




Eli Lilly’s 2021 revenue was $28.32 billion, up 15% from $24.54 billion the year before. Eli Lilly said in its earnings report in February that global revenue totaled $2.239 billion if Eli Lilly’s COVID-19 antibody sales were excluded, representing a 10% increase in full-year revenue.


Excluding Eli Lilly’s US antibody gain of $1.978 billion, US sales rose 18% to $16.811 billion, or 11%.


In the diabetes segment, Eli Lilly’s GLP-1 med Trulicity had full-year global sales of $6.472 billion. However, insulin injection Humalog slipped 7% to $2.453 billion. As competition intensifies, Eli Lilly said in February it was bracing for “a sustained drop in U.S. Humalog prices”


Likewise, Eli Lilly’s Humulin fell 3% to $1.223 billion in 2021.


On the pandemic front, Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab and etesevimab antibody combination reaped billions in 2021, though Eli Lilly has been reluctant to pin its hopes on a repeat of COVID-19 sales in 2022.


Eli Lilly and Company struck a new deal with the U.S. for the $720 million monoclonal antibody bebtelovimab, which received emergency-use approval from the FDA the next day. The contract comes shortly after the U.S. restricted access to Eli Lilly and Regeneron’s earlier antibody combination therapies, as well as Eli Lilly, because the drugs failed to fight omicron variants of the virus.


Eli Lilly expects 2022 sales to be between $27.8 billion and $28.3 billion.


13. Bayer

2021 revenue: EUR 23.87 billion (USD 28.23 billion)
2020 revenue: EUR 22.56 billion (USD 25.71 billion)




Bayer’s pharmaceutical industry began to see sales decline after more than 25 billion euros ($27.8 billion) a year in 2016-2018. At this point, the untimely $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto forced Bayer to execute divestments across its various divisions.


Following these sell-offs, Bayer’s pharmaceutical division saw a sharp drop in revenue, from 25.32 billion euros ($28.39 billion) in 2018 to 23.71 billion euros (26.49 billion euros) in 2019 and 22.56 billion euros (25.71 billion euros) in 2020 Dollar).


But 2021 reversed, with Bayer reporting 23.87 billion euros ($28.23 billion) in revenue. Despite a 10% increase in sales, Bayer dropped one spot in the top 20 as Eli Lilly (driven by sales of COVID-19 antibodies) jumped from 15th to 12th.


Bayer’s sales growth was primarily driven by strong performance from Eylea. Regeneron’s macular degeneration treatment sold in the U.S. brought Bayer 2.9 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in sales, up 19 percent from 2020.


Eylea’s performance helped make up for the slowing momentum of the company’s top-selling drug Xarelto, which finally showed its age as an oral anticoagulant at 4.7 billion euros as it begins to lose exclusivity in some markets outside the U.S. $5.1 billion) in sales last year, up 6% from 2020.


Bayer has a solid product portfolio that is on the rise. Of its 15 top-selling products for 2021, eight saw sales growth of more than 10% last year, including blood pressure drugs Adalat and Adempas, X-ray agent Ultravist, and birth control products Mirena/Kyleena/Jaydess and YAZ/Yasmin/Yasminelle .


As for 2022, Bayer expects a continued slowdown in Xarelto’s sales and increased competition from Roche’s Vabysmo against Eylea, which the company expects to grow by 3% to 4%.


14. Gilead Sciences

2021 revenue: $27.3 billion
2020 revenue: $24.7 billion




From 2013 to 2015, the company’s sales nearly tripled, from $11.2 billion to $32.6 billion, thanks almost entirely to its pioneering oral treatments for hepatitis C, Sovaldi and Harvoni.


Over the past two years, COVID-19 has presented another opportunity that Gilead has taken advantage of with its injectable antiviral drug Veklury. In 2020, Veklury’s sales reached $2.8 billion. The drug gained additional growth late last year when the drug proved to be one of the few treatments to remain effective against omicron, with Veklury hitting $5.6 billion in sales.


If it weren’t for Veklury, Gilead’s revenue would have declined in 2020 and 2021. Instead, its overall sales rose 11% last year and 10% the year before.


Attributed the stagnation of Gilead, excluding Veklury, to its main HIV product, whose sales fell to $16.3 billion from $16.9 billion in 2020. But there was hope in the fourth quarter, as sales rose 7% from the fourth quarter of 2020, a trend that could reverse.


Combined sales of HIV treatments Truvada and Atripla fell to $515 million in 2021 from $1.8 billion in 2020. Biktarvy helped make up for that decline by increasing sales from $7.3 billion in 2020 to $8.6 billion last year.


But some of Gilead’s other HIV drugs are also in decline. Descovy, Genvoya and Odefsey all saw sales decline last year.


Gilead has high hopes for breast cancer drug Troveldy, which had sales of $380 million last year. Analysts believe peak sales are likely to reach $5 billion. If it falls short, Gilead will regret spending $21 billion on its developer Immunomedics.


15. Amgen

2021 revenue: $25.98 billion
2020 revenue: $25.42 billion




In early March 2021, Amgen announced a $1.9 billion acquisition of Five Prime Therapeutics, a cancer drug developer focused on developing a potential first-in-class anti-fibroblast growth factor receptor 2b (FGFR2b) antibody. Shortly after closing the deal, Amgen said the drug received breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA.


Amgen gained more momentum in oncology last May with the FDA approval of the KRAS inhibitor Lumakras. The first-in-class treatment generated $90 million in all of 2021, but as it continues to grow, its long-term future remains somewhat uncertain due to potential competition.


Amgen is also doubling down on biosimilars as it pushes to deliver cancer drugs. At the JPMorgan Healthcare conference earlier this year, executives outlined their ambition to achieve $4 billion in annual biomimic sales by 2030. That would be double what the company copied last year.


On the financial front, Amgen achieved total revenue of $26 billion last year, an increase of 2% over 2020. Amgen said the company’s partnership with Eli Lilly to produce COVID-19 antibodies drove the growth.


As for sales, Amgen reported flat sales in 2021 as volume growth of 7% was offset by a 7% decline in real prices. For Amgen, revenue growth of 2% last year followed a 9% increase in 2020. This performance came from increased sales of its key drugs.


16. Boehringer Ingelheim

2021 revenue: EUR 20.62 billion (USD 24.36 billion)
2020 revenue: EUR 19.57 billion (USD 22.29 billion)




While many drugmakers’ sales figures have shown extreme volatility during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boehringer Ingelheim’s impact has been minimal and predictable.


The German company has shown a rare level of stability in each of the past three years without the help of a vital product to fight COVID-19. After a 9% increase from 2018 to 2019, the pace of pandemic growth slowed to 3% in 2020.


Last year, the company’s upward trend resumed modestly as Boehringer Ingelheim reached the 20 billion euro mark for the first time, with revenue up 5 percent.


In 2021, Boehringer Ingelheim sees similar alignment across its three main divisions. Pharmaceuticals rose 6 percent to 15.29 billion euros ($16.78 billion), animal health rose 4 percent to 4.29 billion euros ($4.71 billion), and contract manufacturing rose 10 percent to 917 million euros.


Leading the pharmaceutical industry was sales of diabetes drug Jardiance, with sales of 3.9 billion euros ($4.3 billion), up 29 percent from 2020. With two recent FDA approvals for heart failure and two other indications in Europe, Jardiance’s market is expected to grow significantly as it now has an edge over AstraZeneca’s Farxiga.


Jardiance isn’t the only drug Boehringer Ingelheim has approved recently. Two lung disease nods in the past three years have helped drive sales of Ofev, which was originally approved in 2014 for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The drug’s revenue in 2021 was 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion), up 25 percent from the previous year.


Jardiance and Ofev’s performance helped make up for lower sales of Boehringer Ingelheim’s blockbuster Spiriva due to generic competition.


17. Novo Nordisk

2021 revenue: DKK 140.8 billion ($22.38 billion)
2020 revenue: DKK 126.9 billion ($20.24 billion)




Novo Nordisk’s revenue in 2021 was DKK 140.8 billion ($22.38 billion), a 14% increase in revenue compared to DKK 126.95 billion ($20.24 billion) in 2020.


Diabetes and obesity sales combined fell 15% to DKK 121.6 billion, thanks to Novo Nordisk’s growing glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) drug library. All told, Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 sales are up 32% in 2021.


Also, for the first time, Ozempic’s full-year sales significantly outpaced sales of Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 drug Victoza, which was on a downward trend before falling off the patent cliff in 2022 and 2023. Total sales for Ozempic in 2021 reached DKK 33.7 billion ($5 billion), more than double the DKK 15 billion ($2.2 billion) that Victoza received during the period.


18. BioNTech

2021 revenue: EUR 18.98 billion (USD 22.44 billion)
2020 revenue: EUR 482 million (USD 549 million)




It’s hard to imagine a company surpassing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine-fueled revenue explosion of 2,200% between 2020 and 2021. But in percent change, BioNTech’s 38x leap was even bigger.


Of course, sales of the COVID-19 vaccine also contributed to BioNTech’s transformational year after the December 2020 approval of the mRNA vaccine Pfizer helped develop.


In 2020, when BioNTech’s revenue totaled 482 million euros ($549 million), 270 million euros ($308 million) of that came from vaccine sales. The windfall came last year when the company announced sales of 18.8 billion euros ($22.22 billion) in COVID-19 vaccine sales.


BioNTech, which focuses on developing mRNA immunotherapies for cancer patients, lost millions before its fortunes reversed during the pandemic.


In the first three quarters of 2021, driven by the first approved product, the company achieved a profit of 7.126 billion euros, compared with a loss of 352 million euros in the same period in 2020.


As for this year, BioNTech expects to generate between 13 billion euros and 17 billion euros in revenue, almost all of which will come from vaccine sales.


While BioNTech may offer more vaccine doses in 2022, sales may be lower due to discounts.


19. Moderna

2021 revenue: $18.47 billion
2020 revenue: $803 million




With an annual growth rate of over 2,000%, it’s safe to say that Moderna is a growth outlier on this list.


In 2020, after rushing to the forefront of the global COVID-19 vaccine race, the company achieved $803 million in sales as the vaccine was rolled out. But Moderna won’t really hit the ground running until 2021.


Last year, the company’s global revenue was $18.47 billion, up 2,200% from 2020.


Before the pandemic, few outside the biopharma industry knew about Moderna, an mRNA company founded in 2010. But that all changed as the company took a leadership role in global vaccination efforts.


Today, the company is a mainstream player in the Covid-19 pandemic, and Moderna is likely to remain among the pharma giants as it strives to move beyond its COVID-19 vaccine.


As Moderna’s only licensed product, the COVID-19 vaccine Spikevax contributed the vast majority of the company’s total revenue — $17.7 billion.


As for 2022, Moderna expects its global sales to reach $22 billion. To get there, Moderna said it aims to deliver as many as 3 billion doses this year.


20. Viatris

2021 revenue: $17.81 billion
2020 revenue: $11.82 billion




There’s a new generic drug company at the top of this year’s rankings — at least for now, it has knocked longtime player Teva Pharmaceutical off the list.


Viatris, born in late 2020 from the union of Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn division, made $17.81 billion in sales in its first full year. Operating income fell 3% compared to adjusted full-year 2020 results, but overall the company performed “better than expected,” Viatris said in its earnings report in February.


The company attributes this success to solid performance in developed and emerging markets, as well as Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Greater China.


Viatris has done well with biosimilars, most notably Semglee, approved last year, which cites Sanofi’s diabetes blockbuster Lantus and holds the title of the first interchangeable biosimilar. The distinction means the drug can be used as a pharmacy replacement for Sanofi’s products without a doctor’s prescription, just like generic versions of small-molecule drugs.


The drug debuted in branded and off-brand form in the fall, and Viatris used an unusual pricing strategy to grab market share. A Viatris spokesperson previously told Fierce Pharma that the unbranded version, called insulin glargine, was about 65% cheaper than Lantus’ list price. Meanwhile, the brand Semglee is only slightly cheaper than Lantus.


Viatris forecast 2022 revenue of between $17 billion and $17.5 billion, in line with its latest full-year earnings.



(source:internet, reference only)

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