Biopharmaceutical companies are a hot topic in markets for their high profit margins and staggering annual revenues. However, discussions about their missions and operations are not nearly as common. As public health has come to the forefront of our private conversations and remains ever-present in the media, it is worth understanding these companies more deeply. Below is a list of some of the top trailblazing biopharmaceutical companies in the global community, as well as their respective areas of expertise, research, and development.
- Samsung Biologics
Samsung Biologics has rightfully earned their spot on our list as a top biopharmaceutical trailblazer. The South Korea-based company was established in 2011 and has since generated an annual revenue of $400 million. Samsung Biologics opened their third biologics manufacturing plant in Songdo, South Korea, in October 2018. This plant established the Samsung Group, Samsung Biologics’ parent company, as one of the world’s largest biologics contract manufacturing operators (CMO) in the world.
On April 10th, Samsung Biologics announced a manufacturing agreement with Vir Biotechnology, Inc. that would contract Samsung to perform large scale manufacturing services for Vir’s SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody (mAb). This research, which may provide life-saving treatment to Coronavirus patients, is valued at approximately $362 million. Manufacturing is scheduled to begin in early October, with potential commercial manufacturing by 2021.
- Gilead Sciences Inc.
Gilead Sciences is an American biopharmaceutical company focused primarily on antiviral drugs to treat HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and influenza. They are a top generator of revenue, bringing in approximately $22.45 billion in 2019. Gilead is considered one of the largest companies in the biopharmaceutical industry, and presides over one of the highest profit margins of any of the big biopharma companies.
Gilead’s investigational compound, remdeivir, has been reported as a potential treatment for COVID-19. The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published an analysis in early April that studied the effects of remdesivir on a small group of patients with severe coronavirus symptoms. The study showed that the majority demonstrated clinical improvement after taking the drug.
Novo Nordisik is a Danish based company with a primary focus on diabetes care. The company also developed biopharmaceuticals for hemophilia, growth hormone therapy, and hormone replacement therapy.
On April 6th, NVO announced that the European Commission granted marketing authorization for Rybelsus, a drug used to treat adults with insufficiently-controlled type 2 diabetes to improve glycemic control in addition to diet and exercise. NVO hopes to launch the drug later in 2020 across all twenty-seven European Union member states and the United Kingdom.
- Merck & Co., Inc.
Merck & Co is a pioneer in cancer research. The company recently announced its acquisition of clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Peloton Therapeutics. Merck & Co hopes that this acquisition will assist with their goal to help patients with advanced cancers and other diseases.
Earlier this month, Merck announced a maternal health initiative called Merck for Mothers. Its goal is to help end preventable maternal deaths by providing $3 million to help health systems adequately meet the needs of pregnant women before, during, and post-delivery while grappling with COVID-19. While the initiative was established in 2011 to address broader maternal health concerns, chairman and CEO Kenneth C. Frazier recognizes that there is a stronger call to action in the midst of this pandemic.
Pfizer is a household name in biopharmaceuticals. The popular multinational corporation is based in the United States and leads its competitors in revenue, bringing in $51.75 billion in 2019. This revenue is put to a noble cause, as the company has recently made notable contributions to breast cancer research. Last June, the European Commission approved Pfizer’s Talzenna as a monotherapy for treatment of adult patients with germline breast cancer susceptibility.
- Alkermes PLC
Alkermes PLC is focused on treating the central nervous system. Their biotechnology researches schizophrenia, depression, addiction, and multiple sclerosis (MS). They are headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, operate a research and development center in Waltham, Massachusetts, and manufacture at their facilities in Athlone, Ireland and Wilmington, Ohio. The company has more than 20 commercial drug products to address these conditions.
Founded in 1896, Roche is one of the longest-standing companies on this list. Their mission statement is “doing now what patients need next,” and they fulfill this intent across two divisions: pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Headquartered in Switzerland, the company also controls the American biotechnology company Genentech, the Japanese biotechnology company Chugai Pharmaceuticals, and the United States-based Ventana. They are the second-largest pharmaceutical company worldwide.
AstraZeneca was a top 10 pharmaceutical revenue earner in 2019, closing out the list at $23.57 billion. Headquartered in Great Britain, they operate a broad-based portfolio of products focused on cancer, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disease, infectious diseases, neuroscience, respiratory disease, and inflammation.
It was reported on April 23rd that AstraZeneca is planning to test a diabetes drug, Farziga, in 900 patients hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19 who may be at risk of organ failure. The study is a randomized global Phase 3 trial and will be conducted at St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as at other sites in Europe.
- Bristol-Myers Squibb
Headquartered in New York City, this American pharmaceutical company reported $20 billion in revenue in the past year with earnings of $4.8 billion. Their prescription pharmaceuticals and biologics range across several areas including but not limited to cancer, HIV/AIDS, and psychiatric disorders.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced an expansion of its existing patient support programs to assist eligible unemployed patients in the United States who have lost their health insurance. This program provides cost-free access to any of their branded medicines, including some of their most widely prescribed products and those prescribed via telehealth services.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries was the 19th highest pharmaceutical revenue earner in 2019. They have two headquarters for global and commercial developments in Israel and New Jersey, respectively. The company specializes in generic drugs and is the largest generic drug manufacturer in the world.
Teva announced on April 13th that their global manufacturing network is “tirelessly focused on securing and scaling the production of both API and finished doses for potential treatments that may prove essential in treating the [Coronavirus] condition nearly everywhere Teva does business.” The company highlighted their Goa, India plant, where they are specifically developing tablets and API to treat the virus.