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What Is the Most Profitable Pharmaceutical Drug Ever?

Uncover the science, market dynamics, and economic impact behind the pharmaceutical sector's most profitable and impactful medication

According to research conducted by Bentley University, large pharmaceutical companies generate substantial profits, often surpassing those of even major corporations listed on the S&P 500. The study highlights that the most profitable pharmaceutical drug are comparable to knowledge-driven companies in the technology sector.

Given the significant medical business profits in the pharmaceutical industry, it’s intriguing to explore the most profitable pharmaceutical drug ever developed. In this overview, we will delve into some of the most lucrative pharmaceutical medications currently in the market.

Glenmark has become the first Indian pharmaceutical company to receive endorsement for the use of Favipiravir as a Corona drug.

How Big is the Pharma Industry?

A study conducted by the Center for Integration of Science and Industry revealed that large pharmaceutical companies outpace many others on various financial lists. This study aimed to assess the medical business profitability of major pharmaceutical firms engaged in researching, developing, producing, and marketing drugs. The investigation was prompted by the prevalent perception that drugs are significantly overpriced.

Between 2000 and 2018, pharmaceutical companies amassed revenues exceeding $11.5 trillion, with a net income surpassing $1.9 trillion. Net income reflects the difference between revenue and expenses, providing insight into their profitability.

It’s crucial to note that pharmaceutical companies are just one facet of the extensive healthcare system. Other key players in this sector include benefit managers, wholesalers, retail pharmacies, and healthcare providers. Consequently, the pharmaceutical industry stands as one of the largest and most influential sectors globally.

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World’s Most Profitable Drugs

  1. Xarelto – $6.5bn

Xarelto, an oral coagulant developed by Johnson & Johnson and Bayer, has experienced over 5% sales growth since 2018. Widely used for the treatment of Coronary Artery Disease, it enjoys popularity in the US and Europe.

  1. Opdivo – $6.7bn

Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo, the world’s first anti-programmed death receptor, witnessed a global sales increase of over 36% in 2018. It is employed in treating over 12 different types of cancers and is under patent protection until 2027.

  1. Eylea – $6.7bn

Developed by Regeneron and Bayer for ophthalmic treatment, Eylea experienced a 12% sales boost outside the US in 2018, following its introduction in 2011.

  1. Avastin – $6.9bn

Roche’s Avastin gained popularity, particularly in China, leading to a significant sales growth of 12% internationally. It is used for various medical conditions and achieved substantial success in the Chinese market.

  1. Herceptin – $7bn

Roche’s Herceptin, approved in 1998, treats HER2-positive breast cancer. While sales grew by 1% in 2018, the drug faces challenges in the future due to the entry of biosimilars in the market.

  1. Enbrel – $7.1bn

Amgen’s Enbrel generated sales revenue exceeding $5bn in the US and Canada and $2.1bn outside North America. Primarily used for plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, Enbrel faces stiff competition.

  1. Keytruda – $7.1bn

Keytruda is employed in the treatment of 11 different types of cancer, experiencing an impressive 47% increase in net sales in 2018.

  1. Revlimid – $9.7bn

Revlimid witnessed an over 18% rise in net sales in 2018, primarily due to increased market share penetration. The drug is used for the treatment of multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma.

  1. Eliquis – $9.8bn

Eliquis, a joint venture between BMS and Pfizer, observed a remarkable 32% growth in net sales in 2018. The drug helps prevent stroke and systemic embolism.

  1. Humira – $19.9bn

Abbvie’s Humira contributed almost 61% to the company’s total revenue in 2018, making it the most profitable product. With a 7% growth in net sales worldwide in 2018, the drug is crucial for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Which Is the Most Profitable Pharmaceutical Drug Ever?

The most profitable pharmaceutical drug in the industry is LIPITOR, developed, marketed, and sold by the PFIZER corporation. During its patent protection period, LIPITOR amassed a staggering $131 billion in sales. 

Introduced in 1997, the same year the FDA permitted targeted drug advertisements, PFIZER capitalized on this opportunity, allocating over $272 million annually for extensive ad campaigns and awareness initiatives. To promote the drug, PFIZER employed a team of more than 2000 sales representatives who regularly visited doctors to advocate for LIPITOR. 

By 1994, LIPITOR became the world’s first mega-blockbuster drug, surpassing $10 billion in annual sales. However, after its patent expiry in 2011, global sales plummeted by over 71%, marking a significant decline. Nevertheless, during its prime, LIPITOR contributed to 25% of Pfizer’s yearly revenue, solidifying its status as the world’s most profitable pharmaceutical drug.

A national pharmaceutical giant has announced the launch of the primary oral Favipiravir following the launch of the ‘FabiFlu’ brand of the drug.



The pharmaceutical industry stands as one of the most thriving sectors globally, boasting significant medical business profitability. However, the exorbitant pricing of medications has undeniably posed challenges for the general public, according to experts. To understand the Patent Search Process for Drugs, individuals can seek guidance from Vakilsearch.

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