Who'll be the biggest drugmaker of them all?

Who's ready for the latest Big Pharma line-up? Prepare for some big changes: Pfizer ($PFE) will lose its first-up position in a few years to Novartis ($NVS), EvaluatePharma figures, as Sanofi ($SNY) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) move up--and Merck ($MRK), Roche ($RHHBY) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) drop back.

In 2018, we'll have the following companies in the top 6, ranked by prescription-drug revenue, all with sales of $40 billion or more. (After that, drug sales drop off to $27 billion and stay in the $20 billion+ range through No. 11, Novo Nordisk.)

  1. Novartis, $51.3 billion, up from $46.7 billion in 2011
  2. Pfizer, $48.2 billion, down from $53.5 billion
  3. Sanofi, $48.2 billion, up from $39.3 billion
  4. GlaxoSmithKline, $44.9 billion, up from $34.9 billion
  5. Roche, $43.9 billion, up from $37 billion
  6. Merck & Co., $40.6 billion, down from $41.9 billion

The fastest-growing among the top 20 drugmakers aren't the top rankers, however. That distinction belongs to HIV drugmaker Gilead Sciences ($GILD), with a compound annual growth rate of 9%, and diabetes specialist Novo Nordisk ($NVO), with 7%. After that, it's Glaxo and Takeda, each with 4%.

But despite the growth most of the top 20 prescription drugmakers will enjoy, pretty much everyone's global market share will drop. Novartis will obviously boast the biggest share, with 5.8%, but that's down from 6.5% last year.

Plenty more in EvaluatePharma's report. Top selling drug? Merck's diabetes remedy Januvia and its combo pills, with Abbott Laboratories' ($ABT) anti-TNF drug in second place.  Then there's a ranking of drugmakers by biotech sales--Roche is first now, and will remain so in 2018, with Novo Nordisk and Sanofi a somewhat distant second and third--and a ranking of the most valuable R&D projects, topped by Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and Pfizer's clot-fighter Eliquis, now awaiting U.S. approval.

- read the EvaluatePharma release
- get more from PharmaTimes