The 10 Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies | NES Fircroft

The 10 Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies


​The pharmaceutical industry continues to see huge growth following the COVID-19 pandemic.Th...

Matt Nicholson

By Matt Nicholson

​The pharmaceutical industry continues to see huge growth following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest companies are reinvesting revenue into research - and the employees that drive that research. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world and some of the opportunities available with them.

​Key Takeaways

  • Johnson and Johnson are the largest pharmaceutical organisation by size

  • BMS, Addvie, and Roche have been winning awards in 2022 as great workplaces

  • Addvie performs strongly despite being the newest company on this list

  • Total revenue across the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in 2021 is approx. $568.6bn

  • Most companies employing between 75,000-100,000 staff globally. There are more than 15,000 open opportunities between these organisations.

2019-2021 Revenue (Top 10)


2019 Revenue ($bn)

2020 Revenue ($bn)

2021 Revenue ($bn)





Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS)
















GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)




Merck (MSD)












Johnson & Johnson




Source: Wall Street Journal/


Headquarters: Cambridge, UK

Revenue in 2021: $29bn

Total number of employees: 83,100

Recruitment Status: over 1700 jobs returned

AstraZeneca develops, manufactures, and sells pharmaceuticals and biotechnology products to treat oncology, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, infection, neuroscience, respiratory, and inflammation disorders.

In 2020, they were one of the first companies to develop and manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine, following research and development with Oxford University.

Their corporate headquarters is in Cambridge, United Kingdom, and their main R&D centres are in Cambridge (UK), Gaithersburg (Maryland, US), Gothenburg (Sweden), and Warsaw (Poland).

AstraZeneca has an average Glassdoor score of 4.2, with over 90% of the organisation approving of CEO Pascal Soriot. Their employees claim a good work-life balance, good benefits, and a great working environment are the biggest reasons for AstraZeneca’s positive scores.

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS)

Headquarters: New York

Revenue in 2021: $46.4bn

Total number of employees: 32,200

Recruitment Status: over 1800 global jobs

New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb operates research facilities in Belgium, France, the UK, and Japan.

BMS’s primary focus is on cancer, cardiovascular, immunology and fibrotic therapeutic projects. Their stated mission is "to discover, develop, and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases."

BMS ranked 119th in the Forbes ‘best employers for new grads’ 2022 list, which is supported by a Glassdoor rating of 3.9. Positive employee reviews bring attention to the work environment, benefits, and development opportunities. They also rank 25th in the Great Place to Work – World’s Best Workplaces list 2022.


Headquarters: North Chicago, Illinois

Revenue in 2021: $56.2bn

Total number of employees: 48,000

Recruitment Status: over 1000 open jobs globally

Founded in 2013, Abbvie is a new organisation. But they still make the list of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world with over 48,000 global employees and a 2021 revenue of over $56bn.

They split from Abbott Laboratories in 2011 and now focus on research-based pharmaceutical medicines from their offices across the US as well as Germany and Japan.

Current employees have rated Abbvie for having a supportive structure, friendly teams and great experience opportunities, earning a score of 3.9 on Glassdoor, as well as being placed 72nd in the Top 100 Best Places to work 2022 and 160th in the Forbes ‘best employers for new grads’ 2022 list. Most impressively, it ranks 6th in the Great Place to Work – World’s Best Workplaces list 2022.


Headquarters: Paris, France

Revenue in 2021: $37.8bn

Total number of employees: 100,000

Recruitment Status: over 2000 jobs are available

Paris-based Sanofi was founded in 1973 and operates in thirty-four countries. The Sanofi Group manufactures and markets pharmaceutical drugs primarily for prescription markets, and also develops over-the-counter medications.

Sanofi's therapeutic areas include cardiovascular, central nervous system, diabetes, internal medicine, oncology, thrombosis, and vaccines.

Roles available at Sanofi include pharmaceutical and science jobs, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and research. There are opportunities for people with a wide range of skills and experience and a passion for supporting medical research.

Sanofi has a Glassdoor rating of 3.9, with employee reviews speaking positively of the benefits and training programs, strong compensation, and a good working environment.


Headquarters: New York, United States

Revenue in 2021: $81.3bn

Total number of employees: 79,000

Recruitment Status: 2000 opportunities listed globally

Headquartered in New York, with offices and research facilities across the globe, Pfizer is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Revenues of over $81bn in 2021 put them near the top of the list of biggest pharmaceutical companies by revenue.

While their name may have become more familiar through their COVID-19 vaccine research, Pfizer has been producing a wide range of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication since its launch in 1849.

Having won UK Top Employer seven times in a row and placing 37th in the Forbes ‘best employers for new grads’ 2022, Pfizer has regularly been voted as a great place to work. Employees have given their company an average review score of 4.1 on Glassdoor, for reasons including a positive work environment, great benefits and career opportunities, and great networking.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

Headquarters: Brentford, UK

Revenue in 2021: $46.9bn

Total number of employees: 90,096

Recruitment Status: 2938 opportunities listed

GSK, based in Brentford UK, is known for developing medicines for respiratory disease and HIV, as well as developing in other key therapy areas such as immunology and oncology. They now have offices in over one hundred countries and employ over 90,000 people.

Prescription medications include antidepressants, such as Paxil, and antidiabetics, such as Avandia. In addition to popular prescription medications, vaccines, and consumer health products, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is a major manufacturer of pharmaceuticals.

Opportunities with GSK include business operations, engineering, manufacturing and supply, and marketing and sales, as well as graduate and experienced opportunities in research and development of their broad line of products.

With employees reporting flexible working options, great employee welfare and a positive work environment and culture, GSK scores a respectable 4.0 on Glassdoor.

Merck (MSD)

Headquarters: Kenilworth, New Jersey, United States

Revenue in 2021: $48.9bn

Total number of employees: 68,000

Recruitment Status: over 1400 jobs listed

Merck Group (known as MSD outside of the US and Canada) is a large pharmaceutical company with their head office in the United States and offices globally. They’re also one of the oldest, able to trace their roots to the Merck family of Germany in 1668.

Merck’s areas of research include oncology, vaccines, infectious diseases, and cardio-metabolic disorders. They also produce biological therapies and animal health products, as well as over-the-counter medications. They remain the second-largest pharmaceutical company in the US.

Career opportunities include healthcare, life science, as well as electronics and enabling functions which provide technical solutions to the medical industry. There are opportunities for postgraduate science positions to technical and office roles globally.

review score of 4.1 on Glassdoor, as well as ranking 35th in the Forbes ‘best employers for new grads’ 2022 list, shows Merck/MSD is a great place to work. Positive feedback from employees includes an inclusive work environment with a high standard of professionalism, great benefits, and salaries.


Headquarters: Basel, Switzerland

Revenue in 2021: $47.2bn

Total number of employees: 104,323

Recruitment Status: almost 2000 jobs listed

Novartis was formed in 1996, as a result of a merger between two Swiss companies, Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz Laboratories - one of the largest corporate mergers in history.

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, it is separated into two main divisions; Innovative Medicines, which produces patented medicines, and Sandoz, which specialises in biosimilar medications.

Novartis and Sandoz have more than 100,000 employees across their global offices and have a variety of open roles within their divisions – nearly two thousand vacancies at the time of writing.

They’re also the highest-ranking employer in the Forbes ‘best employers for new grads’ 2022 list, in 27th place. Additionally, positive Glassdoor reviews praise the friendly work environment, great work culture and pay and benefits structure, awarding an average review score of 4.1.


Headquarters: Basel, Switzerland

Revenue in 2021: $62.9bn

Total number of employees: 101,000

The Roche Group, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, operates in one hundred countries and employs more than 100,000 people. The organisation is divided into two segments - Pharmaceuticals, researching medicines in oncology, immunology, ophthalmology, infectious diseases and neuroscience; and Diagnostic, which researches diseases through an in vitro diagnostics process.

As part of their global recruitment, Roche also runs an entry-level program called Perspectives which supports new entrants in training and development into key roles.

Of all the pharmaceutical companies on this list, Roche scores highest on Glassdoor reviews and also the highest approval rating for CEO Severin Schwan – 93%. With a review score of 4.3, employees like the overall purpose and direction of the company, the development opportunities, and the great benefits packages.

Johnson & Johnson

Headquarters: New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States

Revenue in 2021: $93.6bn

Total number of employees: 141,700

Recruitment Status: over 2500 jobs advertised

With a workforce of over 141,000, 2021 revenues of over $90bn and divisions spanning pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer health, Johnson and Johnson takes first place as the largest pharmaceutical company in the world in 2022.

Johnson and Johnson were founded by three brothers in 1886; Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson, in New Jersey in the United States. They pioneered the first commercial first-aid kits in 1888, and the first maternity kits in 1894, and have seen many innovations in their 135-year tenure.

To support steady growth, J&J regularly advertise new opportunities globally, with the most roles in their medical devices and pharmaceuticals operations. Their headquarters has remained in New Jersey, with offices and laboratories worldwide.

Employees praise the work environment, benefits, and also the impact the company makes on patients, awarding Johnson and Johnson a score of 4.2 on Glassdoor reviews.


All of the Top 10 Pharmaceutical companies have opportunities for the right candidates looking for a career in life sciences. Attracting the best talent means offering the best employment packages, great benefits, and a considered approach to work-life balance.

NES Fircroft has been supporting the Life Science market for over 20 years, sourcing personnel for engineering, scientific and commercial roles across the market. We recruit highly experienced professionals to the biotechnology, pharmaceuticaldiagnostics, and medical devices industries.

We can provide both permanent and contract candidates to the Life Science industry across Quality, Clinical, Regulatory/Compliance, and Engineering disciplines.

If you’re looking for skilled personnel, get in touch with our dedicated Life Science Recruitment teams to find out how we can support you.

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