Johnson & Johnson takes pharma brand crown as Pfizer's value falters: ranking

J&J leads pharma companies in brand value, according to annual Brand Finance study. Roche and Bayer also came out on top, while Pfizer faltered. (Alpha Stock Images)

Johnson & Johnson tops 2020's most valuable pharma company list, despite dropping 11% in brand value over the past year. The giant pharma and consumer health company’s brand is currently worth $10.9 billion, according to Brand Finance’s annual assessment of global pharma names.

Previously sequestered on the cosmetics list, J&J is a new entrant to the pharma ranking, expanded from 10 companies to 25 this year. Roche, last year's first-place finisher, came in second with a brand value of $7.59 billion, an increase of 9.8%. Bayer finished third at $5.15 billion, clinging to its spot despite a 17.1% dip in value.

J&J’s strong finish—despite a Q4 financial shortfall and the taint from talc and opioid lawsuits—shows its significant heritage brand equity, said Richard Haigh, managing director at Brand Finance.

RELATED: Big Pharma aces brand valuations for 2019, with Roche once again leading the way

“By having a strong brand, J&J is more resilient. You do see scandals with big brands, but it takes quite a few before things really start to go off the boil,” he said. “I think J&J is still a very well-loved and respected and trusted brand despite some of these issues.”

J&J’s value also got a boost from its relatively strong performance in antimicrobial research and development—it ranked third this year in the Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark among big research-oriented pharma companies. It was one of the first to announce efforts last week to develop a vaccine candidate against the coronavirus outbreak out of China. That may boost J&J’s brand value for next year.

RELATED: Pharma sinks to new low⁠—and takes last place⁠—in consumer sentiment poll

The fastest-falling brand in the rankings was Pfizer, which shed 20% of its brand value and sank to No. 6 on the list. Haigh said some of the problems for Pfizer have been lower earnings, an overly broad product line and innovation setbacks.

“Having been around for many decades, they clearly know what they’re doing creating a sustained and sustainable business. So although they have gotten into a rut now, from what I can tell they’ve identified the issues and are investing in getting through,” Haigh said.

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