U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry - Statistics & Facts

The U.S. pharmaceutical market is the world’s most important national market. Together with Canada and Mexico, it represents the largest continental pharma market worldwide. The United States alone holds over 45 percent of the global pharmaceutical market. In 2016, this share was valued around 446 billion U.S. dollars. Many of the global top companies are from the United States. In 2016, six out of the top 10 companies were from the United States when based on pure pharmaceutical revenue.


The largest U.S. companies on the global market are Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Merck &Co. Johnson & Johnson generated around 72 billion U.S. dollars of revenue in 2016, although only a part of it came from the company's pharmaceuticals division. The company is also active in the medical devices/diagnostics and consumer products segments. Interestingly, among the top pharma companies by revenue alone within the U.S., there are several non-U.S. based companies, for example, British-Swedish AstraZeneca and Swiss Novartis.

Regarding medical research and development, the U.S. has always been a pioneer and a booster for the global pharmaceutical industry. Almost 60 billion U.S. dollars are spent annually on pharmaceutical R&D purposes in the United States. Costs for developing a new drug have been increasing drastically over the last decades from under 200 million U.S. dollars in the 1970's up to over 2.6 billion nowadays. The R&D expenditures per employee in the pharmaceutical industry are incomparably higher than in any other manufacturing sector.

Total nominal medicine spending in the U.S. was around 425 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. In recent years, the three top therapy classes for which most money was spent included oncology, diabetes, and autoimmune. These three areas alone were worth over 110 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. In the same year, Gilead Sciences’ Harvoni, a hepatitis C drug, was the best-selling drug in the U.S., generating some 14 billion U.S. dollars in revenue. Based on the number of prescriptions, generics represent the top drugs. For example, Levothyroxine and Acetaminophen were prescribed a combined 218 million times in 2015.

Among consumers and patients, the pharmaceutical industry often leaves an ambiguous image. According to a recent survey among American adults, only 28 percent stated that their impression of the industry is positive, while 43 percent tended to have a negative impression. On the other hand, nearly 60 percent think that the quality of products manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical companies is good or excellent.

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