This year's Fortune 500 list is out. And pharma companies saw major profit growth
2021 was a year of good fortune for pharmaceutical companies — at least the ones on this year’s Fortune 500 list. Many saw a massive surge in profits last year, led by Gilead and its mammoth 4,961% growth.
However, it appears Gilead isn’t alone in that respect. Despite its gains, the company actually fell 13 spots in Fortune’s rank to No. 129, as several other companies more than doubled their profits.
Pfizer saw a 128.6% growth, moving up 34 spots on Fortune’s rank to No. 43. The pharma giant raked in $81.3 billion last year, and this year expects to earn $32 billion in Covid-19 vaccine sales alone.
CEO Albert Bourla has big plans for those fresh billions, admitting on the Q1 call that “acquisitions are obviously very much in the cards.” Oncology, vaccines, rare diseases and internal medicine are among the core focuses in R&D, according to chief business innovation officer Aamir Malik.
AbbVie saw a 150% increase in profits, moving up five spots to No. 63 as CEO Rick Gonzalez focuses on lining up successors to the company’s blockbuster Humira. Last year, Humira crossed the $20 billion mark in sales. Looking ahead, Gonzalez said Skyrizi and Rinvoq can surpass Humira’s peak sales.
The chief executive revealed earlier this year that AbbVie will look to add several new indications to the Skyrizi and Rinvoq labels in the coming months. But he isn’t relying on those products entirely. Gonzalez continues to beef up the early-stage pipeline, and just last week shelled out $48.5 million to jump into the Treg space with Cugene.
Regeneron leapfrogged the most spots on Fortune’s list, jumping 123 places to No. 231, with a 129.9% profit growth. The biotech’s monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid-19 brought in $6.19 billion last year, out of a total $16.07 billion in sales. That’s changing, though, as the FDA halted its use earlier this year due to “markedly reduced activity” against the Omicron variant.
Moderna also made its Fortune 500 debut this year, clocking in at No. 195, after raking in more than $18 billion last year from its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. Earlier this year, CEO Stéphane Bancel pegged a $19 billion sales estimate for 2022.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson remains the highest biopharma company on Fortune’s list, standing at No. 37 with a 41.9% growth in profits. It may not stay there for long, as J&J recently lowered its full-year sales forecast to between $94.8 billion and $95.8 billion, down about $1 billion from what the company predicted back in January. The company also suspended financial guidance for its Covid-19 vaccine, as a global supply surplus and vaccine hesitancy affect demand.
However, CEO Joaquin Duato maintained on the Q1 call that the pharma giant will be able to do “small, medium and large scale acquisitions should the right opportunity present itself.”
While Fortune celebrated 44 companies on the list that are led by women (an all-time high) only two are from the pharmaceutical industry: Zoetis, led by Kristin Peck; and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, led by Reshma Kewalramani.
Walmart, Amazon, Apple and CVS Health topped this year’s Fortune 500 list. Editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell is already looking to see which companies will make a comeback this year, saying in a news release:
“Several pandemic winners make their debuts this year. Vaccine maker Moderna clocked in at No. 195. Zillow, which benefited from the red-hot housing market, comes in at No. 424. And Coinbase (No. 437) became the first crypto company to join the 500. […] The real winners will be the companies that not only thrived under the freakish circumstances of Covid, but can flourish once the world opens back up.”
Correction: REGEN-COV brought in $2.3 billion in Q4, and $6.19 billion for the full year.