BioSpace Looks at the Top 8 Biopharma Companies by Net Income


Yahoo! Finance and Insider Monkey project the biotechnology sector will grow from about $500 billion in 2020 to $950 billion in 2027. The growth is driven by several factors, including an aging population and a rise in chronic diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic increased the public’s attention to the industry, and shifted some companies’ fortunes entirely — would Moderna be where it is today without its COVID-19 vaccine? Unlikely, since it has no other products on the market.

Here's a look at the eight most profitable biotech companies around the world. Profitability, in this case, refers to net income, as opposed to total revenue or sales.

8. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Based in New York, Regeneron develops drugs for infectious diseases, eye diseases, cardiovascular, allergy and inflammatory diseases, and cancer. In the past, it has tended to be the innovation engine in a partnership with France’s Sanofi. In 2021 the company reported net income of $8.58 billion out of full-year revenue of $16.07 billion. For the year, $6.19 billion came from its antibody cocktail against COVID-19, Regen-Cov.

7. AbbVie. Headquartered in Chicago, AbbVie reported 2021 revenue of almost $56.2 billion with net earnings of $11.55 billion. The company’s products range across immunology, hematology, aesthetics, particularly after its acquisition of Allergan, neuroscience, ophthalmology and women’s health.

6. Moderna. Moderna is focused on developing mRNA therapeutics. Its sole product is its COVID-19 vaccine. In 2021, the company reported revenue of $18.5 billion, with GAAP net income of $12.2 billion. The vaccine is approved in more than 70 countries.

5. Merck & Co. Based in Kenilworth, NJ, Merck reported $48.7 billion in sales in 2021, up 17% from the previous year, with GAAP net income of $12.345 billion. Although it abandoned efforts for a COVID-19 vaccine, its antiviral molnupiravir, which it developed with Ridgeback biotherapeutics, has been authorized in the U.S. and other countries. Merck has distributed about 3 million courses to the U.S. Government as part of its procurement agreement.

4. Roche. Based in Switzerland, the biopharmaceutical behemoth includes Genentech, headquartered in South San Francisco. Broadly, Roche offers therapeutics for cancer, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and anemia, as well as drugs for ophthalmology, dermatology and immunology. Roche also has a significant presence in the diagnostic markets for both instruments and test kits. In 2021, Roche reported revenues of $72.04 billion, up 11.94% from the previous year. Net income was $15.09 billion.

3. Johnson & Johnson. The New Jersey-based company focuses on three segments: consumer products, medical devices and pharmaceutical. Within pharmaceuticals, its portfolio includes treatments in oncology, neuroscience, pulmonary hypertension and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and immunology and infectious diseases. In the U.S., it is one of three companies that have an authorized COVID-19 vaccine. Last year the company reported revenue of $93.77 billion, an increase of 13.55% from the previous year. Net earnings were $20.878 billion.

2. Pfizer. It’s hard to talk about Pfizer recently without bringing up the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech. It was the first to be authorized in the U.S. and as of March 2022, 331 million doses were given in the U.S. alone. Pfizer’s Paxlovid, an oral antiviral therapeutic to prevent and treat COVID-19, is also on the market. The vaccine generated $36 billion in 2021. The company’s overall revenue for 2021 was $81.49 billion, an increase of 94.45% compared to 2020. Net income was $21.97 billion.

1. Novartis. Based in Switzerland, Novartis provides a range of drugs in the ophthalmology, neuroscience, immunology, hepatology, dermatology, respiratory and cardiovascular spaces. In 2021, Novartis reported $51.626 billion in revenue, an increase of 5.97% from 2020. Net income was $24.108 billion.

In a note to investors after the company’s fourth-quarter 2020 report, Oakmark Funds wrote, “Novartis is one of Europe’s largest pharmaceutical companies and possesses a highly diversified portfolio of innovative products. Its share price underperformed both the broader market and its pharma peers during 2020, largely due to a few disappointing late-stage trials and the company’s lack of COVID-19-related therapeutics or vaccines.”

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