Pharmaceutical Products & Market

Currently, the size of the global pharmaceutical market is around 1.25 trillion U.S. dollars. The range of pharma products varies from antibiotics which haven’t changed much in almost a century to the latest generation of gene therapies and individually tailored treatments. The increasing use of big data and artificial intelligence in researching diseases and developing new drugs massively accelerates the pace of this industry.

Especially in 2020-2021, one can say that the whole world was watching the pharmaceutical industry. This was, of course, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the call for safe and effective vaccines and treatments to get back to normal life. Medical biotech companies like BioNTech from Germany and U.S.-based Moderna, previously mostly unknown to the broader public, were and still are in the midst of global interest, underpinning the important role of this technology- and innovation-driven industry.

Global pharmaceutical market
1.25 tn USD
Largest national pharma market
United States
Largest pharma company by Rx sales

Market size

A crisis-proof market
Revenue of the worldwide pharmaceutical market from 2001 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars)
Further details: Visit original statistic

The pharmaceutical industry is seen as one of the more crisis-proof sectors. Today a roughly 1.3 trillion market, the revenue development has not shown any major drops during the last two decades. It is also expected that the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will not hurt the industry too much in the short term. However, clinical trial process changes, regulatory questions, ethical discussions, and the accessibility of medicines will be of increased importance in the long run.

Global pharma industry
COVID-19 vaccines
COVID-19 pandemic overview

Market segments

Different ways to segment the industry
Distribution of global pharmaceutical sales from 2012 to 2026, by technology*
Further details: Visit original statistic

There are several ways to segment the pharmaceutical market. Frequently used is the distinction between prescription drugs and non-prescription drugs (over-the-counter). Drugs can also be divided into products derived from chemicals and products which enhance biotechnology (biologics). When categorizing the industry by therapeutic areas, the top revenue-generating segments are oncology, diabetics, and pain relief.

Oncology market worldwide
Cancer facts worldwide
Medical biotech worldwide

Industry trends

Major trends are reshaping the industry
Largest pharmaceutical industry mergers and acquisitions ever worldwide until early 2021 (in billion U.S. dollars)
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Just as many other industries, the pharma industry is in a steady process of innovation and reshaping. Buying knowledge through M&A activities, outsourcing of research, as well as medical and technologic breakthroughs are just some of the key developments. We see more and more companies involved in personalized treatments and developing therapies for patients with rare diseases. Big data crunching, machine learning, and real word evidence are becoming new pillars of research and development.

Pharma R&D trends
Orphan drug market
AI market in biopharma global size by application

Industry leaders

Not much change among the frontrunners
Top 20 pharmaceutical companies worldwide based on prescription drug market share in 2019 and 2026*
Further details: Visit original statistic

In general, there is not much fluctuation among the leading pharmaceutical companies. The biggest firms based exclusively on pharmaceutical revenue are Pfizer, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson – all of which are American – and the two Swiss giants Roche and Novartis. For many years, Pfizer was the global leader, but it was overtaken by both Swiss rivals in 2019. Roche is not only the world’s largest biotech drug company but also the global leader in oncology.

Johnson & Johnson

Regional overview

The U.S. is the industry's driver
Global pharmaceutical sales from 2017 to 2020, by region* (in billion U.S. dollars)
Further details: Visit original statistic

Almost half of the world's pharmaceutical revenues are generated in the United States. With its life science and technology hubs that guarantee innovation and a market that is paying the highest drug prices worldwide, this is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, China has suffered a loss of momentum. The world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market saw regular double-digit growth until the mid-2010s, but that has since dropped.

U.S. pharmaceutical industry
Chinese pharmaceutical industry
Japanese pharmaceutical industry

Industry Definition

The pharmaceutical industry is responsible for the development, production, and marketing of drugs used for various types of prevention measures, treatments, and therapies. Major aims of pharmaceutical products are to cure a medical condition, delay its onset, or reduce the symptoms. Many of the larger pharmaceutical companies are not only pure drug manufacturers, but are also involved, for example, in the production of medical devices or consumer health products. Within the pharmaceutical landscape, smaller biotechnology drug companies represent the most innovative part of the industry. Drug manufacturers are often in cooperation with academic sites where an important part of the initial research is carried out.


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