10 Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies in the US

By Ryan Morris - Sep. 18, 2017

“All press is good press” is an adage that doesn’t seem to necessarily apply to the pharmaceutical industry.

From noted “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli’s recent conviction and frequent media clashes to the news that even generic chemo drugs are too expensive to help bring down cancer costs, it seems like the pharmaceutical companies stand to gain the most from keeping out of sight rather than making sure they’re seen and heard.

But even those who have issues with the existence of pharmaceutical companies have difficulty denying the fact that they provide a service that few others can — creating, testing, marketing, and distributing drugs across the world requires massive amounts of time, money, and infrastructure, which can make the barrier for entry into the pharmaceutical industry staggeringly high.

With so many people trying to get in on a slice of the pharmaceutical pie, we were curious — what are the biggest pharmaceutical companies in America today? So, using Google Finance data on market caps, we created our own list of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the US.

The full list can be found further down, but first, here’s a quick top ten.

  1. Johnson & Johnson — New Brunswick, NJ
  2. Pfizer — New York City, NY
  3. Merck & Co. — Kenilworth, NJ
  4. AbbVie Inc. — Lake Bluff, IL
  5. Bristol-Myers Squibb — New York City, NY
  6. Eli Lilly and Company — Indianapolis, IN
  7. Biogen — Cambridge, MA
  8. Abbott Laboratories — Lake Bluff, IL
  9. Stryker Corporation — Kalamazoo, MI
  10. Regeneron — Tarrytown, NY

How We Did It

Using Google Finance, we were able to find a list of the biggest pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the world based on their market capitalizations for the year 2016.

From there, we removed all companies that weren’t based in the US, as well as all those that were focused on biotechnology rather than pharmaceuticals.

That left us with our final list of the biggest pharmaceutical companies based on 2016 market caps.

Does your company make the top ten? Read on to the full list to find out.

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1. Johnson & Johnson


Location: New Brunswick, NJ
2016 Market Cap $314.1 billion
Company Description: Consistently ranked as the largest pharmaceutical company in the US and the largest in the world, Johnson & Johnson was originally founded in the 1880s as a disseminator of surgical dressings. Today, the company owns over 250 businesses as part of the Johnson & Johnson “family” in medically-relevant fields such as medical technology, consumer healthcare, and pharmaceuticals.

2. Pfizer

Location: New York City, NY
2016 Market Cap $196.3 billion
Company Description: Founded in the mid-1800s by Charles Pfizer and his cousin Charles Erhart, Pfizer grew into the company it is today thanks to a number of pharmaceutical breakthroughs, such as the discovery of oxytetracycline (which is used to treat infections such as acne or chlamydia). In the intervening time, the company’s continued success and its many acquisitions have made the company what it is today.

3. Merck & Co.

Location: Kenilworth, NJ
2016 Market Cap $164.3 billion
Company Description: Beginning life as a small family-owned pharmacy in Germany in the late 1600s, the American wing of Merck (called Merck & Co.) was first nationalized in the early 20th century. Since then, the company has become one of the leading US pharmaceutical companies thanks to its ownership of drugs like Gardasil or Januvia. The company also made news in 2012 for discontinuing donations to Boy Scouts of America due to the Scouts’ policy of excluding new members depending on their sexual orientation.

4. AbbVie Inc.


Location: Lake Bluff, IL
2016 Market Cap $100.2 billion
Company Description: Another one of the largest pharmaceutical organizations in the world, AbbVie originally was one of two companies created by the splitting of the Abbot Laboratories company. Abbvie’s employees have conducted research into a number of different pharmaceutical fields, including looking for ways to treat diseases like Crohn’s disease, GARP, and cystic fibrosis.

5. Bristol-Myers Squibb


Location: New York City, NY
2016 Market Cap $98.2 billion
Company Description: A pharmaceutical company located in NYC, Bristol-Myers Squibb was originally founded in in the mid-1800s by Edward Robinson Squibb, who was well-known at the time for his spirited advocation for better quality control standards in medicine. Today, the company stands as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, with its market cap last year coming to $98.2 billion.

6. Eli Lilly and Company


Location: Indianapolis, IN
2016 Market Cap $80.9 billion
Company Description: Headquartered in Indianapolis, IN, Eli Lilly and Company is a pharmaceuticals company that has been in the Fortune 500 since at least 2008. It was the first company to mass-produce drugs like penicillin and insulin, and its insulin discoveries involving recombinant DNA have helped make the company what it is today.

7. Biogen

Location: Cambridge, MA
2016 Market Cap $61.6 billion
Company Description: A pharmaceuticals company originally founded in Switzerland in the 1970s, Biogen eventually merged with a US-based company called IDEC Pharmaceuticals. Now based in Cambridge, MA, Biogen has drugs that treat a wide variety of sicknesses including hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.

8. Abbott Laboratories

Location: Lake Bluff, IL
2016 Market Cap $56.4 billion
Company Description: The second of two companies created by the split of the original Abbot Laboratories in 2013, Abbot Laboratories keeps up with the diagnostic and medical technology side of the business while AbbVie took over the research side of pharmaceuticals.

9. Stryker Corporation

Location: Kalamazoo, MI
2016 Market Cap $45.1 billion
Company Description: Another pharmaceuticals company in the Fortune 500, Stryker Corporation was founded in 1946 and is currently based in Kalamazoo, MI. Their main products involve implants, surgical equipment, endoscopes, and other medical devices.

10. Regeneron


Location: Tarrytown, NY
2016 Market Cap $39.3 billion
Company Description: Regeneron is a pharmaceuticals and biotechnology company focused primarily on research dealing with brain functions, such as the regenerative capabilities of neurons (hence the name). While their research has begun to branch out, they’re still focused on generating new technologies and distributing these technologies, along with life-saving drugs, to the people that need them.

Wrapping Up

That’s all for this one, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.

Are you a recent college graduate on the hunt for a job? Find out how to answer the interview question “what gets you up in the morning?”

Or are you looking for more articles like this one? Check out which small colleges are the best in Illinois.

Ryan Morris


Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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