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Barry Cohen
Barry Cohen
Articles (174) 

Roche Forecasted to Be Top Drug Seller in 2026

AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb's revenues expected to grow the fastest

Thanks to the introduction of drugs in three major disease areas, Roche (RHHBY) is expected to retain its position as the number one member of Big Pharma in terms of sales, according to a report from Evaluate Pharma.

The Swiss company’s revenues are forecast to reach $62 billion in 2026, growing at a compound rate of more than 3.6% from 2019. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) is expected to capture the number two spot with sales of just over $56 billion. Others reaching the $50 billion plus level are Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Novartis (NYSE:NVS), AbbVie Inc.(ABBV) and Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK).

The top 15 pharma companies by 2026 sales

1. Roche

2. Pfizer

3. Johnson & Johnson

4. Novartis

5. AbbVie

6. Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

7. Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY)

8. GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK)

9. Bristol-Myers Squibb

10. AstraZeneca

11. Takeda Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TAK)

12. Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY)

13. Amgen Inc. (AMGN)

14. Novo Nordisk (NVO)

15. Gilead Sciences

Neither AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) nor Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY) cracked the top five, but their sales are forecast to grow the fastest, 8.47% and 8.23%, respectively. A big part of AstraZeneca’s growth will come from its lineup of cancer drugs, while Bristol-Myers picked up $17 billion in revenue with its acquisition of Celgene.

The slow poke award goes to Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD), whose sales are expected to grow only 0.4% to $23.4 billion, good for 15th on the list. The big problem is a likely slowdown in demand for the company’s mainstay HIV drugs. AbbVie Inc.(NYSE:ABBV) is forecast to be another laggard. The Chicago-area company’s sales are forecast to grow at a compound rate of just 1.84%. AbbVie placed 5th on the list with sales forecast to top $53 billion. The acquisition of Allergan brought billions to the top line, but AbbVie’s Humira, the best-selling drug in the world with revenues of more than $19 billion, faces a number of copycat medications when the treatment loses U.S. exclusivity in 2023.

With a slowdown in organic growth, both Gilead and AbbVie are voted most likely to hit the acquisition trail to pump up sales. On the mergers and acquisitions front, Gilead would hope to do better than it did with its purchase of Kite Pharma for nearly $12 billion in 2017. Gilead has already taken two major write-downs totaling more than $1.6 billion on Kite.

A couple of months ago, the rumor was floating around that Gilead and AstraZeneca were talking about a merger, but that speculation has all but disappeared. It was believed that Gilead wasn’t interested in selling, according to an article in FierceBiotech. At least two Wall Street analysts didn’t think a deal made sense. “We do not view this deal as likely,” Jefferies’ Michael Yee wrote in a note to clients. He pointed out that Gilead believes its HIV franchise, led by fast-growing Biktarvy, is underappreciated and “would prefer to build value over time and do its own tuck-in deals.”

One of those deals is the purchase of Forty Seven Inc. (FTSV) for just under $5 billion, which was completed early April.

Disclosure: The author holds positions in Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers, Eli Lilly, Takeda, Amgen and Gilead Sciences.

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About the author:

Barry Cohen
Barry Cohen has nearly 40 years experience in communications and marketing, the majority in senior positions at large international health care companies, including Abbott Laboratories and Bayer Inc.

He has contributed to a number of financial websites, writing primarily about the stocks of health care companies.

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