AZ, Merck and Novartis top Big Pharma's Q3 growth charts. Teva and Pfizer? Not so much

Pharma's third-quarter revenue performance ranged from more than 20% growth to declines for certain companies. (Pixabay)

The drug industry faces no shortage of challenges, from pricing threats and payer clampdowns to stepped-up competition and supply shortages. But a look at third-quarter numbers shows many top players are rolling right along.

In Big Pharma, AstraZeneca beat out its competition, growing third-quarter revenues by 22% to $6.13 billion. Merck & Co., Celgene, Novartis, Roche and Novo Nordisk came next, with revenue growth ranging from 16% to 9%.

Drugmakers on the smaller side turned in revenue growth of up to 23% for Alexion and Regeneron. Vertex Pharmaceuticals clocked in at 21% growth to $950 million during the quarter.

On the flip side, Teva, Pfizer, Amgen, Sanofi and Takeda each posted revenue declines versus the same period last year.

Each company has its own battles to fight. With a decline of 6%, Teva's sales sank the most, as the company works to restructure after several years of tumult—and amid a generics pricing squeeze in the U.S.

Pfizer and Amgen each are dealing with costly patent expirations, which dragged down their top lines by 3%. Sanofi reported that its flu vaccine sales fell short in the third quarter as sales shifted to the fourth quarter, among other issues. Takeda reported a slight decline for the first half of its fiscal 2019 compared with the same period in 2018, and it excludes revenues brought in with the Shire deal. 

The performances come as drugmakers face heightened attention to pricing, with many touting volume-based growth in recent quarters. For AstraZeneca, the increase comes after the company was hit hard by patent losses earlier in the decade. Now, it's besting the industry with oncology rollouts.

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