Top 10 animal health companies of 2015

A cow and dog touching noses

When Fierce published its first list of the top 10 animal health companies back in 2014, we predicted that Eli Lilly’s ($LLY) $5.4 billion purchase of Novartis ($NVS) Animal Health would launch Lilly’s Elanco into the No. 2 spot on our next list. We were close. Elanco moved up one spot to No. 3, but it was edged out for a second-place finish by Merck ($MRK), which has been making some animal-health acquisitions of its own.

Indeed, growth through M&A is a big theme in this year’s Top Animal Health Companies list. Zoetis ($ZTS)--which was spun off from Pfizer ($PFE) in 2013 and has held onto its No. 1 spot since then, bringing in 2015 sales of $4.77 billion--made an entrée into the market for fish vaccines by buying Pharmaq for $765 million, for example. But one of the biggest deals to ever hit this industry was struck by Boehringer Ingelheim and Sanofi ($SNY), which agreed to a $12.5 billion asset swap that should push BI’s Vetmedica unit into the top 3 finishers on the next iteration of this list.

One big change this year is we’ve included diagnostics for the first time. This is a big business that encompasses devices for diagnosing and tracking infectious diseases in production animals, as well as in-office testing tools to monitor the health of cats and dogs. The biggest player in the burgeoning market for animal diagnostics is IDEXX Laboratories, which makes its debut on this list at No. 7.

So here is our complete list of the top animal health companies based on 2015 revenues and on currency exchange rates as of December 31. Keep an eye on these top players, as well as the many small animal-health rivals that have been founded and gone public in recent years and that are looking to break into the top 10. There’s no end in sight to the animal health industry’s growth spurt or its enthusiasm for M&A, so it will be fascinating to watch the evolution of these companies.