The 5 Largest Pharmaceutical Companies of 2024

The pharmaceutical industry represents a backbone of the life sciences sector, being responsible for the development and production of most prescription drugs. This field is continuously committed to researching and creating innovative treatments for a wide range of medical conditions, with a particular focus in recent years on the development of new treatments for diabetes, weight loss and cancer.

With projections that see the pharmaceutical sector reaching a total of 1.6 trillion US dollars in revenues by 2028, there is a significant opportunity for investors to benefit from the growth potential of this industry, while enjoying the diversification and stability offered by established companies.

The 5 Leading Companies in the Sector by Market Capitalization

Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY)

  • Market Capitalization: 733.89 billion US dollars
  • Founded in 1876, Eli Lilly employs approximately 10,000 people in research and development in seven countries and markets products in 110 countries, offering therapies for diabetes, cancer, immune system diseases and a wide range of mental health conditions.

Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO)

  • Market Capitalization: 585 billion US dollars
  • Novo Nordisk is actively engaged in treating conditions such as type I and II diabetes, obesity, hemophilia and growth disorders, marketing therapies in 170 countries.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)

  • Market Capitalization: 374.4 billion US dollars
  • It operates on a large scale through various subsidiaries, with its main pharmaceutical subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, focused on cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, oncology, immunology and pulmonary hypertension.

Merck & Company (NYSE:MRK)

  • Market Capitalization: 316.68 billion US dollars
  • It has an extensive product portfolio, including treatments for conditions such as diabetes and cancer, as well as vaccines for various diseases.


  • Market Capitalization: 315.37 billion US dollars
  • Global biopharmaceutical company that discovers and delivers innovative medicines to address complex health issues in the fields of immunology, oncology, neuroscience, eye care and aesthetics.

Pharmaceutical Industry FAQ

What Does the Pharmaceutical Industry Do?

The pharmaceutical industry includes a variety of companies with different roles, from “Big Pharma” giants with large pipelines and product portfolios, to small R&D companies sometimes acquired by larger companies.

What is Big Pharma’s Business Model?

Big Pharma companies develop new drugs through multiple phases of testing to demonstrate their efficacy, safety and necessity, and then obtain approval from government bodies such as the FDA before mass production, marketing and sale.

Who Are the ‘Big 3’ in Pharma?

The “Big 3” in pharmaceuticals refer to the three largest wholesalers: AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC), Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH) and McKesson (NYSE:MCK), which together represent more than 92% of the wholesale distribution of prescription drugs in the US.

What Are the Problems of the Pharmaceutical Industry?

A big problem, especially in the US, is the high cost of treatments. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed in early 2023, aims to reduce healthcare costs and improve access to medicines for patients, presenting new challenges and opportunities for pharmaceutical companies

What is the Future of the Pharmaceutical Industry?

Pharmaceutical companies will have to adapt to the changes taking place, with innovation that continues to accelerate and the medical landscape that has transformed following COVID-19, in addition to the efforts of the US government to address the astronomical prices of prescription drugs.

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