8. Bayer

Bayer's Big 5 pharmaceutical products helped the business segment generate 4.3% growth for the year. (Bayer)

Bayer
2017 revenue: $28.74 billion (€25.44 billion)
2016 revenue: $27.78 billion (€25.03 billion)
Headquarters: Leverkusen, Germany

Bayer’s 2017 sales may have grown by 1.5% over 2016, but not even the company’s CEO, Werner Baumann, would call it a good year.

“Operationally, it was a year of ups and downs,” he said in a statement in February, when the company announced its full-year results. And some fear the ups—mainly in the German drugmaker’s pharma segment—may not last.

Bayer’s pharma sales swelled by 4.3% for the year, thanks, once again, to its Big 5 growth products: anticoagulant Xarelto, eye med Eylea, cancer-fighters Stivarga and Xofigo and pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment Adempas.

The company highlighted Xofigo in particular, which posted a 25.6% sales increase on the back of a Japanese launch and higher U.S. demand. But Xarelto and Eylea sales each jumped by double-digits—13.9% and 18.5%, respectively—primarily on higher volumes in Europe, Japan and China.

RELATED: Turns out, Bayer HealthCare's faltering even before Monsanto enters the fold

That group helped total pharma sales hit €16.85 billion, setting a new record for Bayer. But the set of growth meds didn’t get it done on its own. The Mirena family of hormone-releasing intrauterine devices put up 9.2% growth, while Aspirin Cardio made gains of 10.5% on increased use in the secondary prevention of heart attacks. Diabetes therapy Glucobay continued to rake in China, pushing worldwide sales up by 13%.

In September, the Leverkusen-based pharma also picked up an FDA green light for Aliqopa, clearing it to take on Gilead’s Zydelig in relapsed follicular lymphoma patients who have received at least two prior treatments.

But industry watchers have worried that the company’s quest to swallow agrichemical giant Monsanto would steer it away from bolstering its pipeline to keep that pharma success going, and a lackluster 2018 outlook didn’t do much to allay their fears. Bayer is still working to close the $66 billion deal, which it inked back in 2016.

Over in a different segment of Bayer HealthCare, consumer health, the numbers weren’t nearly as pretty. Sales dipped by 1.7% to €5.86 billion, with Baumann pointing the finger at “persistently weak business development” in the U.S. In a surprise to Bayer, China also changed two of the company’s products from OTC to prescription, spurring fourth-quarter sales declines.

RELATED: Bayer CEO concedes ‘dramatic’ challenges for U.S. consumer business

And Baumann, for one, isn’t expecting things to get much better anytime soon for consumer health—a sector Bayer once had worldwide ambitions to lead.

“The consumer business overall is actually impacted … by fairly dramatic and rapid change in consumer behaviors,” including an increasing trend toward online buying, he said in an interview this past March.

Meanwhile, while Bayer’s 2017 sales haul may have topped 2016’s, it’s still well below where it used to be. From 2013 to 2015, the company posted more than $40 billion per year, with 2015’s total surpassing $46 billion.

8. Bayer

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