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Who are the top 10 biopharma companies in the world?

Ben Alger our consultant managing the role
Posted by Ben Alger
Published on 1 December 2020
The pharmaceutical market has undergone significant changes in recent years, driven by a range of factors, including technological advancements, demographic shifts, changes in regulatory frameworks, and increasing pressure to control healthcare costs. As the life sciences sector pushes forward to improve the quality of life, we’ve taken a look at the top 10 biopharma companies that are leading the way. Discover how these industry frontrunners are propelling the life sciences sector forward, harnessing groundbreaking innovations, and transforming lives.


Pfizer has always been a frontrunner on the biopharma scence, but the company's work with BioNTech and the development the first Covid-19 vaccine shot them to the top of the watch list. That's not all this company will go down in history for. It had a strong reputation for successfully mass-producing penicillin, the blood thinny Eliquis drug and other Covid treatments such as Paxlovid.

Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences are the inventors of remdesivir – an antiviral medication that was initially developed to treat hepatitis C. The spotlight fell on the drug back in 2014 with the outbreak of Ebola and once again in the early months of 2020 as a treatment for coronavirus. At a time where a vaccine seemed like a distant reality, remdesivir delivered hope that the biopharma industry was winning against the virus.


Roche is a multinational healthcare organisation and is ranked as the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world, only marginally behind the giants that are Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. In 2022, the company ranked in position one for the highest pharma R&D budgets. Roche predicts that the uptake of biosimilars will be a slower trend in the US than Europe, yet the latest figures show that North America dominates 30% of the biosimilars market. The manufacturing of these copycat drugs - which can cost less than half the price of a brand product - is largely outsourced to their Genentech labs.


Proving that you don’t have to be the biggest to be the best is the independent biopharma company Genentech. Though the company was acquired by Roche, its R&D centre remains a separate entity. Genentech is known as one of the earliest biotechnology pioneers and has a broad focus on cancer, neuroscience, immunology and infectious diseases.


Sanofi is a world-leading biopharmaceutical company and unique in its healthcare solutions which span right from prevention up to extended treatment. With a history that dates back to 1718, when a family of pharmacists founded Laboratories Midy – later acquired by Sanofi – the company has been instrumental in eradicating smallpox, polio and diphtheria and setting high quality assurance standards.


Similar to Genentech, UCB is a biopharma company concentrated on severe disease within neurology and immunology. However, what sets UCB apart from the rest is its Belgium-based headquarters. UCB has made headlines for its ambitions to transform the lives of those with life-threatening diseases.

Teva Pharmaceuticals

This American-Israeli biopharmaceutical company showed they meant business in 2020 when they won the ruling that could prevent any generic competition for its cancer drug - Benedeka - up until 2033.


Merck is another biopharma company with a history that spans several centuries. Headquartered in Germany, this company has a presence in 66 countries and though it is most notably known for delivering the first smallpox vaccine in the US, its mission has always been to improve the health and wellbeing of both humans and animals. Though often overshadowed by human healthcare, the global animal pharmaceutical market is projected to be worth $84.98 billion by 2030.


With a focus on neurology, this biopharma company has made itself known for its commitment to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and a treatment looks within reach. More broadly, Biogen has demonstrated a focus on pharmacovigilance and epidemiology.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

GSK is no stranger to making headlines in the pharmaceutical market but in 2017 the news that broke took a different tone. Stories that circulated were celebrating women in life sciences and more specifically Emma Walmsley, who earnt the title of Big Pharma’s first female CEO. The manufacturing giant is known both for its consumer healthcare products, such as Aquafresh toothpaste, and the two million vaccinations it produces daily. 

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