The top 15 pharma companies by 2026 sales

The companies set to lead the industry saleswise in 2026 aren't necessarily the fastest-growing in Big Pharma, according to consensus forecasts cited by Evaluate Vantage. (Photo by oatawa/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

As the pharma industry enters a new decade, the world's largest drug companies are busy launching new meds, restructuring to focus on innovative offerings and eyeing new technologies. And despite challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, analysts see growth ahead for many of them.

Propelled by new rollouts in oncology, multiple sclerosis and hemophilia, Roche is set to lead all Big Pharma companies in 2026 sales, according to consensus forecasts from EvaluatePharma. With nearly $62 billion in expected drug sales that year, analysts believe the drugmaker will easily beat the second-place company, Pfizer, with its expected $56.1 billion.

Behind Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, AbbVie and Merck & Co. are all set to pull in more than $50 billion in 2026 drug sales, the analysts predict. Besides the launches already in the works and pipeline candidates advancing when 2020 began, they've all joined the hunt for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.

These may on the way to top five status, but that doesn't mean they'll be the fastest-growing over the next several years. On a percentage basis, the analysts believe AstraZeneca and Bristol Myers Squibb will grow the most through 2026. Those two will turn in annual growth of 8.47% and 8.23% to 2026, respectively, according to the EvaluatePharma projections. Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk are expected to post annual growth of more than 5% during the same stretch.

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On the dealmaking front, the team at Evaluate Vantage pegs AbbVie and Gilead Sciences as M&A candidates during the coming years. Analysts expect those companies to turn in minimal organic growth over the period, which will naturally ratchet up pressure on execs for dealmaking.

AbbVie just completed its massive Allergan buy, but with Humira copycats looming, experts see more M&A opportunity ahead as biosimilars eat away at billions in revenue. With the Allergan deal, AbbVie is set to climb into the top 5 companies by sales worldwide by 2026.

Please enjoy this report detailing the near- to mid-term future for the world's largest drugmakers. If you have any feedback, please do not hesitate to reach out. — Eric Sagonowsky (email)