The top 5 vaccine makers by 2014 revenue

Longtime industry watchers will recognize the names on 2014's list of top vaccines producers. With the industry's noted barriers to entry, the players are well established--however, a recent EvaluatePharma analysis estimates that the race for vaccines is about to heat up. The report predicts that the top four firms by 2020 are expected to be within less than one percentage point of market share of each other, and last year's developments in the field may have set the stage for that contest. Here, we break down the top 5 vaccines producers of 2014.

Merck ($MRK), the 2013 vaccines sales leader with $5.77 billion in revenue, was able to grow sales to $6.25 billion last year and land in the No. 1 spot in 2014, enjoying increased sales of Gardasil, the second best-selling vaccine worldwide. With growth for the year at 8%, Merck was just able to hold off the oncoming Sanofi ($SNY).

For the year, Sanofi charted 7% vaccines growth and landed in the No. 2 spot with $5.85 billion in sales. For the Paris-based company, the upcoming focus is on its decades-in-production dengue vaccine, expected to be launched in 20 countries by the end of the year. But it also has several other irons in the fire, including a joint venture in Europe with Merck in which it'll garner 50% of sales from Gardasil 9 there.

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) delivered $5.26 billion in sales in 2014 to land it in the No. 3 spot in 2014. It recently completed a multibillion-dollar asset swap with Novartis that saw it pick up most of the Swiss pharma's vaccines stall as it establishes a full-court press on vaccines; EP predicts GSK to remain the No. 3 player in 2020 with $7.34 billion in sales, charting 6% growth for the period.

Pfizer's ($PFE) 13% growth from 2013 revenue of $3.97 billion to 2014 sales of $4.48 billion was just one indicator of a transformative year for the New York-based pharma's vaccines unit. Before announcing in July it's taking a "comprehensive" approach to the field, it began an acquisition spree and continued development on internal candidates in an effort to diversify beyond the world's best selling vaccine, Prevnar 13. The fact that it grew that shot's sales in the U.S. 33% for the year didn't hurt its case, either.

As mentioned, Novartis ($NVS) agreed to hive off its vaccines assets last year in a move away from the field. The No. 5 player in 2014 with $1.53 billion in sales recently completed its final vaccines divestiture, selling its flu vaccines business to CSL in a move that cements its departure from vaccines.

Please review the report and contact us with any questions or comments. -- Eric Sagonowsky (email) and Amirah Al Idrus (email)

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The top 5 vaccine makers by 2014 revenue