Top 50 Pharma Companies 2021: Notes & Methodology

General notes: For this 35th annual special report, Med Ad News editors rank the world’s top 50 companies that generate revenue from prescription medicines and healthcare products. Companies that research, develop, manufacture, and sell healthcare products with a strong base in pharmaceuticals are eligible to be included in this special report. As defined by Med Ad News, healthcare products include human prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, generics, imaging agents, medical devices, medical equipment, medical/surgical supplies, diagnostics, and animal healthcare products.

To be considered for the top 50 company list, companies must be independent and publicly traded (or make their full financial statements public) and must have the capability to develop, manufacture and market human prescription therapeutic drugs. Companies are ranked according to the name of the parent company. All companies are ranked in the main table by their worldwide 2020 prescription medicine revenue. This number was provided by company documents, unless otherwise noted. All other data in the tables represent the group’s consolidated financial figures, unless otherwise stated.

Four companies appear in this year’s Med Ad News top 50 listing that were not ranked in the magazine’s October 2020 annual report: Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding Co. at No. 38; CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Ltd. at No. 43, Incyte Corp. at No. 49, and Cipla Ltd. at No. 50.

Thirty-eight of the top 50 companies reported financials with a year-end date of Dec. 31. These 11 companies reported financials with a March 31, 2021, fiscal year-end: Astellas Pharma, Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla, Daiichi Sankyo, Eisai, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, Ono Pharmaceutical, Shionogi, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, and Takeda Pharmaceutical. CSL reported financials with a June 30, 2021, fiscal year-end. 

Revenue: In tables that rank by revenue, each company is positioned according to worldwide revenue – either by prescription, healthcare or consolidated group, depending on the chart. The revenue figures include net sales of healthcare products, and potentially interest, dividends and other income when provided. Sales from discontinued operations have been included when applicable. 

Earnings: This number represents the net income figure that appears in the income statement, after taxes and after nonrecurring and extraordinary charges. The net income figure is based on the consolidated sales of the group. Figures appearing in parentheses or with a minus sign indicate a loss.

Earnings per share: The number for earnings per common share is taken directly from company financial statements. This figure, based on consolidated results of the group, is adjusted for stock splits and stock dividends. Med Ad News editors used the diluted earnings per share figure when provided. Figures appearing in parentheses or with a minus sign indicate a loss.

Research and development: In the chart that ranks each top 50 company according to the research and development expenditure of prescription and/or healthcare products, the numbers were provided by the companies. Also provided is each company’s total R&D expenditure (consolidated) for all businesses. For some of the international companies, the prescription/healthcare R&D was not provided and thus the consolidated figure was used in their place; in these instances, the difference between the prescription/healthcare and consolidated R&D totals were not a large amount. 

Total assets: This number represents the company’s year-end total assets as reported in the balance sheet statement, and is for the group.

Shareholders’ equity (Deficit): This number represents total shareholders’ equity (deficit) at year-end as reported in the company’s balance sheet statement, and is for the group.

Employees: This number represents the total number of employees for the year.

Market capitalization: The information that appears in this chart shows the market capitalization of companies. The information came from Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, and other sources and reflects company market capitalization as recently as Sept. 17, 2021.

Exchange rates: For non-U.S. companies reporting in foreign currency, Med Ad News editors used exchange rates to convert income statement and balance sheet figures to U.S. dollars. The conversions have been made for the purpose of convenience and comparison only. Med Ad News editors used average exchange rates to calculate income statement figures and balance statement figures. The exchange rates are based on data made available by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board (federalreserve.gov) and certain company documents. Unless otherwise indicated, the editors used the average 2020 exchange rates. So that the percent change in financial statement and balance sheet information reflects the actual increase or decrease in the company’s home-country currency, the editors used a constant rate of exchange for 2020 and 2019. This reflects the increase or decrease actually reported by the non-U.S. company. The same exchange rate was used for the income statement and the balance sheet figures.

For the companies that report in euros, Med Ad News translated U.S. dollar amounts from euros at the rate of €1.00 to $1.141, the average rate of exchange in 2020. The top 50 companies that report in euros were: Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Grifols, Ipsen, Merck KGaA, Sanofi, Stada, and UCB.

For the companies that report in yen, Med Ad News translated U.S. dollar amounts from yen at the March 2021 rate of ¥108.6991 to $1.00, except for Chugai, Kyowa Kirin, and Otsuka, whose numbers were translated at the 2020 average rate of ¥106.78 to $1.00. The top 50 companies that reported in yen were: Astellas, Chugai, Daiichi Sankyo, Eisai, Kyowa Kirin, Mitsubishi Tanabe, Ono, Otsuka, Shionogi, Sumitomo Dainippon, and Takeda.

For the company that reports in pounds sterling, Med Ad News translated U.S. dollar amounts from pounds sterling at the rate of £1.00 to $1.2829, the average rate of exchange in 2020. The top 50 company that reported in pounds sterling was GlaxoSmithKline.

For the company that reports in Swiss francs, Med Ad News translated U.S. dollar amounts from Swiss francs at the rate of SFr0.9389 to $1.00, the average rate of exchange in 2020. The top 50 company that reported in Swiss francs was Roche.

For the companies that report in Danish kroner, Med Ad News translated U.S. dollar amounts from the kroner at the rate of DKr6.543 to $1.00, the average rate of exchange in 2020. The top 50 companies that reported in Danish kroner were Lundbeck and Novo Nordisk.

For the companies that report in Indian rupees, Med Ad News translated U.S. dollar amounts from the rupee at the March 2021 rate of Rs72.8196 to $1.00. The top 50 companies that reported in Indian rupees were Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla, and Sun Pharmaceutical. 

For the companies that report in Chinese renminbi, Med Ad News translated U.S. dollar amounts from the renminbi at the rate of RMB6.9042 to $1.00, the average rate of exchange in 2020. The top 50 companies that reported in Chinese renminbi were CSPC Pharmaceutical Group, Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding, and Sino Biopharmaceutical.

Selection Criteria for Company of the Year

The criteria for selecting the Company of the Year are based on a model developed by the editors of Med Ad News. Each one of the top 50 companies is evaluated on a number of categories, including these:

• Recent and projected future financial strength

• Number of blockbuster drugs on the market

• Number of potential blockbuster drugs in the pipeline

• Recent number of new drug launches

• Number of new drugs to be launched in the near future

• Quality of new products

• Quality of management and vision

• Marketing ability and activity

• Strength of the product pipeline

• First-half current-year performance

• Formative events and actions

• Business strategy

• Corporate governance and ethics

• Wall Street standing

• Responsiveness to market forces

• Shareholder value

• Future direction and potential

 

Past Companies of the Year

2020: Bristol Myers Squibb

2019: Merck

2018: Johnson & Johnson

2017: Roche 

2016: AbbVie 

2015: Gilead Sciences 

2014: Amgen 

2013: Novo Nordisk 

2012: Teva Pharmaceutical Industries 

2011: Novartis

2010: Roche

2009: AstraZeneca

2008: Novartis

2007: Roche

2006: GlaxoSmithKline

2005: Johnson & Johnson

2004: Novartis

2003: AstraZeneca

2002: Pfizer

2001: Novartis

2000: Pharmacia

1999: Eli Lilly

1998: Pfizer

1997: Warner-Lambert

1996: Abbott Laboratories

1995: Pfizer

1994: SmithKline Beecham

1993: Schering-Plough