The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue

The names at the very top of our yearly list of biggest pharma companies are no surprise. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Novartis ($NVS), Roche ($RHHBY) and Pfizer ($PFE) have headed up the rankings for a couple of years now, albeit in varying order. But toward the bottom of the top 10, there's been a changing of the guard.

For the first time, a biotech company has nudged aside one of the biggest Big Pharma names. Eli Lilly & Co. ($LLY), which hung onto 10th place last year by its fingernails, is now out of the top 10, replaced by Gilead Sciences ($GILD) and its skyrocketing sales. Fueled by its brand-new blockbuster hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, Gilead revenue more than doubled last year, to $24.5 billion from $10.8 billion.

The rest of the top 10 are the usual suspects--Sanofi ($SNY), Merck ($MRK), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Bayer HealthCare. They're in slightly different slots for 2014, but all present and accounted for.

But Gilead wasn't the only Big Biotech to make a major leap last year--and Eli Lilly fell farther down the list than one might think. So, to show all the action in the $20 billion neighborhood, we at FiercePharma decided to expand the list to 15 companies. That brought Amgen ($AMGN) and AbbVie ($ABBV) into the group--at 12th and 13th place--and restored Eli Lilly, if only in the number 14 slot.

Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), a Big Pharma name that's been absent from the list for a few years, also made a reappearance, in 15th place.

If you've been keeping track, you know we're missing one company. We saved it for last, for drama's sake. It's the first time a generics company has made our top pharmas by revenue list--and the honor goes to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) and its $20.3 billion in revenue.

Stay tuned for the 2015 shuffle that's sure to come. Bristol-Myers loses its patent protection on the blockbuster antipsychotic Abilify in 2015, and Teva expects to finally get generic competition for its best-selling multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, to name a couple of changes afoot. But the biggest shift could come among our Big Pharma regulars. GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis recently closed their sale-and-swap deal, with GSK oncology going to Novartis, and Novartis vaccines going to GSK--plus a consumer health JV between the two.

And then there's the expected new arrival: Actavis ($ACT), which is buying Allergan for $66 billion, expecting to vault into pharma's top 10. By the end of 2015, the company will be operating under the Allergan name--and will be reporting sales of $25 billion-plus, if all goes well.

We gathered our revenue numbers from annual reports and securities filings, and converted euros and Swiss francs to dollars using average annual exchange rates as calculated by the IRS. GlaxoSmithKline provides its own pounds-to-dollars translation. Comments, questions, suggestions? Let us know. -- Tracy Staton (email | Twitter)

The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue