4. Pfizer

Pfizer

Pfizer
Headquarters:
New York, NY
2016 generic sales: $4.57 billion

Below the world’s top three generics companies, scale in the industry drops off somewhat. Pfizer landed at the No. 4 spot globally, and though the New York drug giant gets the bulk of its sales from branded meds, it has an important generics and unbranded drugs business that turned in $4.57 billion in sales last year, according to Evaluate.

Pfizer’s critical move relating to generics last year was its decision to remain as one company, rather than splitting up as analysts and industry-watchers had long anticipated. With that move, the company's branded and off-patent medicines stayed under the same roof.

RELATED: Pfizer grabs Hospira's biosims, generic injectables in $15B takeover

Back in 2015, the drugmaker bulked up in injectable generics with its purchase of Hospira, worth $15 billion. As industry-watchers know, the company had been eagerly looking for deals after its megamerger bid for the U.K.’s AstraZeneca fell through.

Pfizer’s Essential Unit, as it’s called, “is expected to generate strong consistent cash flow by providing patients around the world with access to effective, lower-cost, high-value treatments,” including generic sterile injectables, according to Pfizer’s recent 10-K filing (PDF) with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

RELATED: Top 10 U.S. patent losses of 2017 - Viagra - Pristiq

With more than 220 injectable meds in the group, plus other off-brand products, Pfizer is looking to Essential Health as a “major growth driver” going forward, according to its website.

While challenging rivals with generics, Pfizer is expecting competition from Teva and Mylan on its notorious blue pill, Viagra, later this year. Pristiq, an antidepressant, already went over the patent cliff back in March.

4. Pfizer