R&D spending share of top pharmaceutical companies 2018 and 2024

In 2018, pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly each spent about a quarter of their prescription drug revenue on research and development. The companies are predicted to spend roughly two percent less of their revenue share on R&D in 2024.

Global R&D spending

In 2018, the pharmaceutical industry spent just under 180 billion U.S. dollars on research and development, which is an increase of over 10 billion compared to the previous year. By 2024, expenditures are expected to reach a total of over 210 billion U.S. dollars. Some 15 thousand prescription drugs were in the 2018 R&D pipeline, a global number that has been growing with each consecutive year. The drug count has doubled since 2006 and is set to increase even further in the future.


AstraZeneca is a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company, based in Cambridge, United Kingdom. The company’s top product in 2018 was Symbicort, which is used for controlling and preventing symptoms of asthma. The product generated close to 2.6 billion U.S. dollars in revenue that year. Revenue earned through Symbicort has decreased each year since 2015.

Top 10 pharmaceutical companies based on R&D spending as revenue share in 2018 and 2024*

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Release date

June 2019



Survey time period

as of May 2019

Supplementary notes

* R&D spending as a share of total prescription revenue. The statistic includes only the companies with the highest amount of R&D spending dollars.
** Forecast.

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Statistics on "Pharmaceutical research and development"

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