1. GlaxoSmithKline

GlaxoSmithKline HQ
With new launch Shingrix getting out ahead of expectations, analysts believe GSK's vaccine business is headed past the $10 billion mark in the coming years. (GSK)

2017 sales: $6.96 billion (£5.16 billion)
2016 sales: $6.19 billion (£4.59 billion)
Vaccine business led by: Luc Debruyne

GlaxoSmithKline made a massive bet on vaccines in 2014 under former CEO Andrew Witty, and since then the company has been picking up steam in the space. With new launch Shingrix getting out ahead of expectations, analysts believe the drugmaker's vaccine business is headed past the $10 billion mark in the coming years. 

GlaxoSmithKline generated £5.16 billion in 2017 vaccine sales, or $6.96 billion at the pound to U.S. dollar exchange rate on Dec. 31. To get there, it posted growth in several areas. 

GSK's meningitis vaccine sales grew 27% in 2017 to £890 million. Flu vaccines jumped 12% to £488 million, while sales for HPV shot Cervarix shot up 57% to £134 million thanks to a new launch in China, where the drugmaker is competing with Merck's Gardasil.  

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline tops its peers with $7.16B in 2017 vaccine sales 

The drugmaker previously withdrew its HPV shot from the U.S. due to lack of demand, ceding that important market to Merck. But it won Chinese approval for Cervarix back in 2016 and has partnered with e-commerce giant Alibaba for its launch. 

Importantly, GSK's large portfolio of "established vaccines," which includes hepatitis shots, rotavirus vaccine Rotarix and more, grew by 7% for the year to £3.76 billion. 

On the other side of the coin, pediatric shots Infanrix and Pediarix, plus pneumococcal vaccine Synflorix, were among the vaccines that posted lower sales for the year at constant exchange rates. 

Meanwhile, GSK is in the early stages of its Shingrix launch, which promises to add a lot of sales potential to its top line. The shot generated $150 million in the first quarter of 2018, and execs said they're expecting a similar pace through the year, implying expectations of $600 million for the year. Analysts believe the shot will bring in blockbuster-level sales. 

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline limits Shingrix orders, delays TV commercials amid 'unprecedented' demand 

In fact, Shingrix is already in such high demand that the company has had to limit orders to manage inventory. In a letter to CEO Emma Walmsley, two senators urged the company to boost supply.  

Those factors combined are why EvaluatePharma recently predicted GlaxoSmithKline will lead the vaccine industry in 2024, with estimated sales that year of $10.74 billion. The company has a wide range of pipeline programs, including a universal flu shot, a program in HIV and more.

But current vaccines president Luc Debruyne won't be leading the outfit for much longer. In June, GSK said he's leaving at the end of the year, to be replaced by Manufacturing & Supply President Roger Conner. 

1. GlaxoSmithKline

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