In this article, we explore what biopharmaceutical companies are and how they’re different from traditional pharmaceutical companies. This will be accomplished by first explaining what a pharmaceutical company is in general, and then specifying what makes biopharmaceutical companies what they are. We further list some top examples to exemplify some prominent biopharmaceutical companies seen in 2020.
A pharmaceutical company can be described in many ways, but in general, they are commercial enterprises that discover, develop, manufacture, distribute, and/or market/sell drugs. For the most part, they function within the broader healthcare industry as an integral part of how patient care is delivered. Specifically, they produce valuable medications that doctors prescribe and people depend on to treat a variety of illnesses.
Since the 1800’s, most pharmaceutical companies depended on chemical synthesis of their products. However, more recent advances in biomedical research have allowed these companies to make drugs from biological, or at least semi-biological, sources. These companies are henceforth called biopharmaceutical companies, or at least have biopharmaceutical divisions/subsidiaries to their overall pharmaceutical operations. A good example of a group of biopharmaceutical agents is vaccines – many are produced from disabled viruses which themselves are spread through biological origins.
Because biopharmaceuticals are at the cutting edge of biomedical research, they are often used to treat many medical conditions that otherwise have no treatment options available. Therefore, it is important to enumerate some examples of top biopharmaceutical companies in order to illustrate their significance in the broader pharmaceuticals industry. Here are some of the leading players in the biopharmaceuticals game around the world:z
– Gilead Sciences
o Headquarters location: Foster City, California, USA
o Present market cap: $83.00 billion
o Recent statistics: Known simply as Gilead, this company is known for production of important antiviral drugs. One of the most important ones in recent times is remdesivir, an antiviral originally made for hepatitis C that was unsuccessfully tested in diseases like Ebola and now being tested for COVID-19. In other significant news, the company acquired biopharmaceuticals producer Immunomedics for $21 billion to in-part garner access to triple-negative breast cancer medication Trodelvy.
o Headquarters location: Thousand Oaks, California, USA
o Present market cap: $145.46 billion
o Recent statistics: Amgen’s focus is creating medications for the most vulnerable in society. With that said, it’s no surprise that they are also throwing their name into the COVID-19 treatment hat with Otezla, a treatment that they bought from Celgene for $13.4 billion in 2019 for the treatment of psoriasis.
– Samsung Biologics
o Headquarters location: Incheon, South Korea
o Present market cap: $44.26 billion
o Recent statistics: Korean biopharmaceutical companies in general have garnered widespread business in recent years. Now with increasing pressure to capitalize from the COVID-19 pandemic, Samsung Biologics is further spending $2 billion on a “Super Plant” to keep up with worldwide demand. They’ve recently inked deals with Vir Biotechnology for $362 million and GlaxoSmithKline for $231 million, for production of their respective coronavirus vaccines. They also recently received FDA approval for large-scale production of Trodelvy, the triple-negative breast cancer treatment that Gilead Sciences makes through subsidiary Immunomedics.
o Headquarters location: South San Francisco, California, USA
o Present market cap: N/A (private subsidiary of Roche)
o Recent statistics: Genentech is a significant player in the biopharmaceuticals game acquired by Roche Group in 2009. They operate as an independent business within Roche. This year, they made the top three in Fortune’s U.S. best workplaces in biopharma list, and were also listed in Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for master roster.
o Headquarters location: Basel, Switzerland
o Present market cap: $316.73 billion
o Recent statistics: As such a behemoth, Roche is of course involved in the fight against COVID-19. They recently partnered with Regeneron for production of their coronavirus treatment candidate REGN-COV2. Further, they are also involved in production of testing kits, even garnering FDA approval for a combined coronavirus/influenza testing solution.
o Headquarters location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
o Present market cap: $44.08 billion
o Recent statistics: Biogen produces medications for patients with neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. They have been in the news recently for stock drops after revealing at a recent earnings call that they would be submitting a key drug to the FDA for approval later than expected.
o Headquarters location: Summit, New Jersey, USA
o Present market cap: N/A (subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb)
o Recent statistics: Celgene was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb (known also as BMS) for $74 billion last year in 2019. They focus on making medications for cancer and inflammatory diseases. Chief amongst their portfolio of products is Revlimid, which is a treatment for multiple myeloma patients.
– Teva Pharmaceuticals
o Headquarters location: Petah Tikva, Israel; and Parsippany, New Jersey, USA
o Present market cap: $10.04 billion
o Recent statistics: Teva focuses on creating biosimilars, “imitation” biologics that have the same essential properties as original medications. Though considered a highly profitable company, they were recently charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for conspiring with competitors to fix the prices of their generic drugs.
o Headquarters location: Paris, France
o Present market cap: $66.14 billion
o Recent statistics: Sanofi is a long-standing French company that has evolved over its decades-long existence. They are known for early mass-production of insulin for diabetes, and also vaccines for a variety of infectious diseases such as more recent influenza outbreaks. More recently, they partnered with GlaxoSmithKline in deals to supply the U.S. and some European governments (such as the U.K.) with their COVID-19 vaccination, and further signed an open letter promising COVID-19 vaccine safety. Also recently, they acquired Principia Biopharma for around $3.6 billion.
o Headquarters location: Brussels, Belgium
o Present market cap: $18.92 billion
o Recent statistics: USB focuses on creating treatments for patients with severe, life-changing illnesses. They recently purchased Ra Pharmaceuticals for $2.3 billion in order to further that mission. They further as of late partnered with world-class tennis champion Caroline Wozniacki to launch global health initiative Advantage Hers, which aims to help women with chronic inflammatory diseases like the rheumatoid arthritis that she suffers from take more active roles in the decision-making of their healthcare.
Biopharmaceutical companies have garnered more international attention than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These are the top 10 leaders in the space that should be followed for developments on a coronavirus vaccine, or any other biopharmaceutical agent for that matter given the increased overall interest in recent times. They are bound to make further significant moves given the resources available to them due to their dominant statures.