Which pharmas grew most in Q2? AstraZeneca, Merck and BMS, for 3

Following the second-quarter earnings season, we've assembled growth rankings for more than 20 top drugmakers. (Pixabay)

As pharma's earnings reports rolled out for the second quarter, market watchers pointed out a big positive: Growth rates, for many companies at least, were up. Way up.

Now that the industry's top players have all rolled out their numbers, we've delved into sales figures from Big Pharma through closely watched specialty pharmas and big biotechs. And some companies truly did churn out better-than-expected growth. AstraZeneca, we're looking at you and your 18% hike, for instance.

Topping all other major pharma companies, though, was Regeneron, which posted 20% growth thanks to a big performance from Eylea. (The drugmaker also posted the second-lowest total revenues for the set, so take that into consideration; it takes fewer new dollars to grow 20% from a $2 billion-or-so baseline than from a Big Pharma-level $6 billion or more.)

AstraZeneca, Celgene, Alexion, Merck & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb each grew sales in the teens. Their quarterly revenues came in between $1.2 billion for Alexion and $11.8 billion for Merck, whose immuno-oncology drug Keytruda just keeps on racking up big sales gains. 

Swiss pharma giants Roche and Novartis appeared one after the other in the rankings, with second-quarter sales growth of 9% and 8%, respectively. Several other drugmakers turned in more modest sales increases that execs still celebrated. Take Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, for example. Those companies posted 6% and 4% sales increases despite intense pricing pressure they've been dealing with for years.

RELATED: Amgen sales slide as copies dig into Sensipar, Neulasta

On the flip side, the quarter did feature some declines for top players. Sales at Allergan dipped slightly. Amgen's overlapping patent losses are taking a toll on its revenues, while Teva continues to grapple with problems that worry investors—and have shares trading toward 20-year lows. 

We ranked growth at constant exchange rates based on company press releases and Securities and Exchange Commission filings. For companies that report in foreign currencies, we converted totals to U.S. dollars. Bayer provides a portfolio adjusted growth figure, and Takeda's growth doesn't account for new Shire sales.