Big Pharma has an image problem. Official pharmaceutical statistics indicate that it is the least trusted of all business industries and seen by many as the epitome of corporate greed. But how much do we really know about pharma companies?
Does Big Pharma put most of its resources into developing and manufacturing drugs that will protect humanity from dangerous diseases? Or is it in the business just for the sake of huge profit margins?
Some of these pharma facts and stats might be a bitter pill to swallow, but at least they will give you a clearer picture of what the industry is all about.
Ten of the Most Interesting Facts About Pharmacy
Among the plethora of compelling facts and impressive figures we gathered about pharmacy, we singled out these fascinating statistics about Big Pharma to blow your mind and make you want to know more.
- The US is the biggest pharmaceutical market in the world.
- US pharmaceutical spending increased by 5.2% in 2018.
- GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals rake in about £7 billion in 2020 on respiratory products.
- GSK hit over 9.14 billion in vaccine sales in 2019.
- The FDA approves around 40–50 drugs every year.
- Americans spent $60 billion on antidiabetic drugs in 2018.
- Entresto is projected to generate $2.48 billion in revenue in 2020.
- Pharmacy technicians get an annual average salary of $32,700.
- Hawaii is the best US state for pharmacists.
- Robots were introduced in pharmacies back in 2010.
Global Pharmacy: Interesting Facts and Stats
The US is the hub of pharmaceuticals. However, Europe and India are expeditiously building a robust pharmaceutical market.
Gathering data from across the world, here are some exciting notes we think you should know about the global pharmaceutical industry.
1. The global pharmaceutical market made $1.2 trillion in 2018.
If you think this is a colossal sum, you will be shocked to hear that the market is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2023, at a growth rate of 4–5%.
2. The US is the biggest pharmaceutical market in the world.
Sales of drugs in the US made up 47% of the global market for pharmaceuticals. According to the pharmaceutical industry statistics, in 2018, emerging markets accounted for 21%, and Europe made up 20% of the worldwide market.
3. US pharmaceutical spending increased by 5.2% in 2018.
(Pharmaceutical Commerce, Health Affairs)
Not only did the US spend $485 billion on pharmaceuticals in 2018, but pharmaceutical expenditure is also projected to go as high as $655 billion by 2023. Not surprising, considering that prescription drugs account for around 15% of total healthcare expenditure in the US.
4. The Asia Pacific pharmaceutical market is the second biggest in the world, pharmaceutical industry stats indicate.
(Navadhi, Market Research Blog)
This market is expected to retain its position through to 2023 when it should make up 24.7% of the global market. Growth in this regional market is mostly driven by affordable pricing made possible by low-priced generics.
Other factors that contribute to rapid growth include an increase in the GDP per capita and government-supported healthcare programs.
5. Six of the top 10 big pharmaceutical companies are headquartered in the US, pharmaceutical industry facts show.
These include Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, and AbbVie, among others. From this list, Pfizer leads the pack as the biggest pharma company both in the US and the world, reporting a whopping $51.8 billion in revenue last year.
6. The pharmaceutical industry has some of the highest profit margins in the world.
The average net profit margin for this industry is between 12.5–14%, although the top pharmaceutical companies’ statistics show that some of them have reported profit margins of up to 40%.
7. Big Pharma spends big money on advertising.
Pharmaceutical companies spent an astonishing $26.9 billion on the marketing of prescription drugs in 2016. The majority of this amount, or $20.3 billion, went towards marketing to physicians, while $6 billion was spent on TV commercials and magazine ads.
8. Pharma companies pay massive amounts in fines.
(Fool, Pharmaceutical technology)
Pharmaceutical companies get fined all the time for misleading advertisements and wrongful acts. However, the pharmaceutical facts reveal that Big Pharma has been slapped with the highest penalties in the healthcare industry.
Taking the number one spot is the 2012 GlaxoSmithKline settlement when the company paid a $3 billion fine for knowingly promoting some of its antidepressants to minors.
9. In 2018, California was the single largest employer in the drug and pharmaceutical community.
According to a survey, California had about 47 thousand workers across 632 drug and pharmaceutical establishments. New Jersey ranked second on the list having about 304 establishments with 21,950 employments.
10. GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals rake in about £7 billion in 2020 on respiratory products.
GlaxoSmithKline Plc, also called GSK, ranks among the BIG Pharma in the world. The company is headquartered in the UK and has its products distributed globally. According to pharmaceutical statistics from 2020 the reported increase in sales of respiratory products is not impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
11. GSK hit over 9.14 billion in vaccine sales in 2019.
The world vaccine market is forecasted to record colossal growth soon, regarding the impact of the lingering COVID-19. There’s high competition among big pharmaceutical companies to produce vaccines for the pandemic.
12. About $36 billion in prescription drug revenue will be at risk globally due to patent expirations in 2022.
Patent expiration from 2019 to 2026 may cause a huge impact on global drugs. After the expiration of patent protection, generic companies will be permitted to produce cheaper variants of patent-protected branded drugs. This is one of the facts about the pharmaceutical industry that explains the huge competitiveness in the industry.
Pharmaceutical Research and Development Statistics
The pharmacy niche is arguably one of the most profitable globally. But did you know Big Pharma spends up to one-fifth of their total revenue on research and development?
We dove deep into the specifics and gathered some compelling pharmaceutical facts about research and development to boost your attention.
13. Big pharmaceutical companies spend a small fortune on R&D.
Global pharma spent $179 billion on research and development in 2018, statistics for the pharmaceutical industry reveal. This roughly translates to 17% of the total revenue, while some pharma companies spend up to 20% of their revenue on R&D. In comparison, Apple — known for its innovative practices — spends only 3% of its income on research and development.
14. AstraZeneca spent a quarter of its revenue on R&D.
This UK company may spend the most on R&D, but it’s the Swiss-based Novartis (with 219 products in development in 2019), which has the best pipeline, the Big Pharma statistics show.
15. There are over 7,000 drugs in development globally.
One of the Big Pharma stats that should give patients some peace of mind is that 74% of these drugs are potentially first-in-class. Drugs are currently being developed for the treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
16. The FDA approves around 40–50 drugs every year.
(FDA, Forbes, FDA)
The FDA approved 48 new drugs in 2019. This is slightly less than the previous year when the pharmaceutical industry statistics revealed an all-time high of 59 new drugs.
Furthermore, 22 of the FDA-approved drug treatments in 2019 were orphan products, i.e., intended for the treatment and prevention of rare diseases.
17. Developing a new drug costs around $2.6 million.
(Policy & Medicine, Forbes)
When you add the cost of post-approval research and development of around $312 million, total expenditure on new drug development comes up to about $3 billion. Companies that spend this amount, or close to it, have developed no more than six new drugs in an entire decade.
Facts and Statistics About Pharmaceutical Drugs
Revenue made from cancer medication sales reflects on the devastating effects of this severe disease on the world’s population.
Moreover, a growing demand for anti-diabetic medications also raises concerns in the United States. Let’s take a look at other facts about pharmaceutical drugs.
18. Oncology, pain management drugs, and antidiabetics generated the most revenue in 2018.
Reports from pharmaceutical sales statistics show that cancer medicine sales across the world reached $100 billion in 2018, while pain therapy and diabetes medication generated revenues of $79 billion and $40 billion, respectively.
19. Oncology is expected to remain the leading therapy area.
While the cancer medication sales are projected to reach $263 billion by 2025, it’s immunosuppressants that will experience the most significant growth rate, the pharma industry statistics suggest.
With an estimated CAGR of 15.4% from 2017–2025, this therapy segment is moved forward by the sales of Dupixent by Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara.
20. Americans spent $60 billion on antidiabetic drugs in 2018.
The number of prescriptions for diabetes medications stayed the same in 2017 and 2018. However, the spending jumped up by almost $6.5 billion due to an increase in the price of antidiabetic drugs.
21. According to pharmacy statistics, Humira is the world’s best-selling drug.
Humira is AbbVie’s best-selling product, accounting for 61% of the company’s net revenue in 2018. With almost $19.9 billion in 2018, Humira’s net sales increased by 7% across the globe.
This drug is used for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and spondylitis.
22. Merck’s Keytruda is set to dethrone Humira.
The immuno-oncology drug Keytruda is expected to be the world’s best-selling drug according to the pharmaceutical statistics and projections for 2023, followed by Bristol-Myers Squibb’ Eliquis, which is an oral anticoagulant.
23. Lipitor is the best-selling drug in history.
(STAT News, FiercePharma)
Lipitor generated a staggering $94.67 billion in sales from 1992–2017. Even though this cholesterol and heart disease medication decreased in popularity after its patent expired in 2011, Lipitor still brings a nice chunk of the profit to Pfizer.
The global sales stood at $2.06 billion, $1.6 billion of which, the pharmaceuticals statistics indicate, came from emerging markets.
24. Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ new treatment of cystic fibrosis is said to be the most valuable project in the pharmaceutical pipeline.
(EvaluatePharma World Preview)
Vertex’s triple combination of VX-445 (elexacaftor), tezacaftor, and ivacaftor awaiting global regulatory approval is one of the most expensive projects in the industry’s pipeline with a net present value of $20 billion.
The sales of this orphan drug treatment are estimated to reach an incredible $4.27 billion in 2024.
25. Entresto is projected to generate $2.48 billion in revenue in 2020.
Entresto is one of the top drugs in the US. It is a product of the Novartis company approved in 2015. According to pharmaceutical industry statistics for 2020 published by Statista’s research department in 2015, the drug was projected to rank second in generating massive revenue amongst other top medications manufactured in the US.
26. In Italy, sales of OTC pharmaceuticals dropped from over €2 billion in 2019 to €1.9 million in 2020.
This drop after a consistent 7-year increase between 2012 to 2019 is linked to the COVID-19 influenced economic contraction.
However, a forecast predicts a revenue increase in the coming years and may go over €2.15 billion before 2026.
Interesting Pharmacy Facts: Working in a Pharmacy
Before you take up a pharmacy-related job, you should know these interesting facts.
27. Pharmacists make $126,120 a year.
Although pharmacists are very well-paid, this is a job that comes with a lot of responsibilities and a less-than-secure future. The number of 314,300 pharmacists in 2018 is projected to decrease, mostly due to the rise of online pharmacies.
28. In the US, pharmacists can administer vaccines in all 50 states.
According to the pharmaceutical statistics for 2017, around 28.3% of adults bought shots at a pharmacy or a drug store. Pharmacies are convenient, as they work extended hours, weekends, and holidays as well, not to mention that the majority of Americans live just five miles away from the nearest pharmacy.
29. Pharmacy technicians get an annual average salary of $32,700.
Unlike pharmacists, pharmacy technicians are more focused on administrative tasks and communication with patients. According to pharmaceutical statistics, jobs for pharmacy technicians are available in pharmacies (where 52% of technicians in the US work), as well as hospitals, the food and beverage industry, and even government agencies.
In comparison to pharmacy technicians, pharmaceutical sales representatives earn almost double the amount, as they have an average salary of 61,660 per year. There were 1,732,400 sales reps in 2018 alone. A pharmaceutical sales rep — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — should have previous sales experience to be able to make career advancements.
30. The demand for pharmacy technicians will go up by 7%.
The pharmaceutical industry employed 420,400 pharmacy technicians in 2018, a number expected to increase to 451,900 by 2028. Pharmacy technicians are also expected to take on more responsibilities in pharmacies in the future.
When it comes to the duties of a pharmacy technician, the facts show these tasks are ranging from collecting information about patients and double-checking the work of other technicians to becoming more involved in the preparation of medication.
Quick Facts: Pharmaceuticals and Supplements
We compiled these fun pharmacy facts to address the market differences between pharmaceuticals and supplements.
31. The most significant difference between drugs and supplements lies in FDA regulation.
All drugs are classified as substances for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. As such, they are tested by the FDA. Supplements, on the other hand, are not regulated by the FDA and are treated as food. In other words, supplement companies don’t have to deal with all the pharmaceutical issues companies go through to get a drug approved for safety and effectiveness.
32. Supplement companies don’t have to spend billions on R&D and FDA approval, either.
(Policy & Medicine, Business Insider)
Pharmaceutical companies, though, spend a significant portion of their revenue on research, development, and regulatory approval, all the while having a 12% chance of their drugs making it through the various phases of clinical trials and getting approved for marketing.
33. Lenient regulation results in more ER visits, supplement misuse, pharmacy facts indicate.
(Business Insider, Scientific American)
No regulation means that supplement companies may use ingredients in a way other than what is written on the label. An estimated 23,000 people end up in the ER every year after taking supplements, 9% of which are hospitalized.
34. Big Pharma and Big Herba are usually one and the same.
Don’t feel too bad for Big Pharma, though. Many of the big pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer, Novartis, and GlaxoSmithKline, also produce dietary supplements, so they get a large share of that market as well.
Pharmacy Fun Facts
Did you know your favorite Coca-Cola beverage was once sold in pharmacies as a cure for headaches? Read on for more exciting pharmaceutical facts.
35. Hawaii is the best state for pharmacists.
No, it’s not because of the sun and the beaches. The average annual salary for pharmacists in Hawaii is $148,006, the highest of all US states.
36. Robots were introduced in pharmacies in 2010.
(CNBC, Drug Topics, Drug Topics)
Dispensing robots in pharmacies is more efficient. In some businesses, they can cover up to 90% of the pharmacy scripts. They also make fewer mistakes than people. During the phase-in period alone, robots accurately filed 350,000 prescriptions.
However, the pharmacy employment statistics and data show that just because a robot pharmacist is cheaper and more efficient, automation won’t decrease the number of jobs in this sector. Pharmacy owners would sooner redeploy staff than let them go.
37. Quite a few famous people worked in pharmacies.
One of the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin and queen of crime novels Agatha Christie worked as pharmacists.
38. We have pharmacists to thank for two of the world’s most famous drinks.
Here’s a little bit more of the pharmacy trivia. John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, invented Coca-Cola and sold it in pharmacies as a cure for headaches and post-morphine addiction symptoms.
Another pharmacy-inspired drink is Dr.Pepper. Pharmacy technician Charles Alderton loved the way drugstores smelled so much that he decided to create a beverage that smelled just like a pharmacy.
What companies are big pharma?
Big Pharma is the collective term used for the biggest publicly traded pharmaceutical companies in the world. It’s one of the most powerful and influential industries in the world, but its biggest impact and influence is in the US. Funding an “army” of lobbyists on Capitol Hill and contributing significantly to the FDA’s annual budget, US pharmaceutical companies have massive sway over policy-making bodies.
Why is it called Big Pharma?
Although Big Pharma is not a concrete definition, with companies that fall under this category, everything is bigger. Big Pharma has bigger R&D centers, huge pipelines, a bigger and broader range of products, and a wider market reach. However, the most important difference between Big Pharma and other “regular” pharmaceutical companies lies in market value.
What is the biggest pharmaceutical company?
Pfizer is the world’s leading pharmaceutical company. Its portfolio covers many therapy areas, from immunology and rare diseases to oncology and neuroscience. Although its best-selling products include Lyrica (an anticonvulsant) and Ibrance (used in the treatment of breast cancer), Pfizer is probably best known for developing the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.
Who founded Big Pharma?
Merck was the first company to start combining the concepts of production of goods and scientific revolution for the benefit of human health around 1827. In the USA, Pfizer was the first business to sell chemicals, while Colonel Eli Lilly was probably the biggest contributor to the development of the industry as he was the first to focus on research rather than just drug manufacturing.
These interesting facts about pharmacist companies reveal that things haven’t changed much since the late 19th century. Namely, Pfizer, Merck, and Eli Lilly are still some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. It’s incredible how they have managed to stay among the top players in the pharmaceutical industry for so long.
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest and most powerful in the world, generating a staggering amount in revenue and sales.
These pharmaceutical statistics showed that this industry has no intention of slowing down even in the face of stricter government controls and price hikes.
There will always be a demand for pharmaceuticals. And as people age and new outbreaks and diseases emerge, the chances are that this trillion-dollar market will only get bigger.
- Business Insider
- Drug Topics
- Drug Topics
- Elsevier Pharma
- EvaluatePharma World Preview
- Health Affairs
- Market Research Blog
- Pharmaceutical Commerce
- Pharmaceutical Technology
- Pharmaceutical Technology
- Pharmacy Times
- Policy & Medicine
- Ross Education
- Scientific American
- STAT News
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