Lilly Edges Out J&J to Top 20 BioPharma Market Cap List for 2023

 Eli Lilly and Company World Headquarters/iStock

Pictured: Sign and building at Eli Lilly world headquarters/iStock, jetcityimage

Amidst a tenuous market, increasing government drug pricing scrutiny and patent cliffs, the top 20 global biopharma companies experienced vastly different shifts in market capitalization in 2023. A report from data analytics firm GlobalData Tuesday reveals an aggregated 1.5% upturn to $3.67 trillion compared to 2022. 

The top market capitalization growth biopharma companies included some expected players and some surprises as well.  

Eli Lilly is now king as its 2023 market cap grew 59.2% year over year to $553.4 billion. Lilly has grown further in 2024, creating speculation from Morgan Stanley analysts as to whether or not it will become the first U.S. company outside the “Magnificent Seven” to reach a $1 trillion market valuation. As of Tuesday, its market cap is $742.4 billion. Lilly’s stock has jumped around 32% this year, as demand for its GLP-1 drug for diabetes and obesity has skyrocketed.  

Lilly edged out Johnson & Johnson at the top of GlobalData’s list. J&J dropped to second place on the list with its market cap falling to $377.3 billion. Concerns over its top-selling drug Stelara are increasing as the company faces competition from biosimilars. J&J reached a settlement agreement with Alvotech for launching a biosimilar in Japan, Canada and Europe this year.  

Novo Nordisk ranked third on the list with a 51.5% growth rate, landing at $355 billion in market capitalization in 2023. Novo’s growth has been fueled by skyrocketing demand for its GLP-1 drugs—Wegovy and Ozempic. The company is expecting an even bigger 2024, projecting sales growth of up to 25%. The Danish drugmaker already experienced another bump in market capitalization in 2024, currently sitting at $553.46 billion. 

Two surprise players have entered the $100 billion market cap club.  Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals both made GlobalData’s list with 41.4% and 21.8% market cap growth, respectively.

Regeneron ended 2023 just under at $95.7 billion but has already snuck over the line to land at $104 billion so far this year. Its stock is up over 5% year to date. Though sales of its top selling drug for macular degeneration dropped in year-over-year sales, Eylea still brough in over $5.88 billion for the company last year. 

After its history-making approval for its Cas9 gene-editing cell therapy in two indications with partner CRISP Therapeutics, Vertex is eyeing another approval for a cystic fibrosis treatment dubbed vanza triple. Regulatory filings are set for later this year. The company’s current market cap is $109.5 billion. 

However, not every company on GlobalData’s top 20 had stellar growth in 2023. 

Moderna’s market cap took the biggest hit, down 45% and falling to the bottom of GlobalData’s list at $37.9 billion. Pfizer also dropped 43.5%, going from third to ninth on the list at $162.6 billion. Both companies have suffered major sales declines post-pandemic as COVID-19 sales have decreased significantly. 

Bristol Myers Squibb's market cap fell 31.8% to $104.4 billion as its cancer drug Revlimid faced stiff generic competition. CEOs from three of the companies with negative market cap growth—BMS, J&J and Merck—recently appeared before a Senate health committee to testify regarding the prices Americans pay for their prescription drugs compared to other industrialized countries.  

GlobalData’s analyst Alison Labya pointed out in a statement that companies who pivoted from COVID-19 to weight-loss drugs “reaped success in 2023,” particularly compared to the companies facing drug price negotiations under the Inflation Reduction Act and those falling off patent cliffs. 

Kate Goodwin is a freelance life science writer based in Des Moines, Iowa. She can be reached at kate.goodwin@biospace.com and on LinkedIn.   

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