Forbes Global 2000: The World’s Largest Healthcare Companies In 2022

Albert Bourla by Jamel Toppin for Forbes-5775

Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, photographed in June 2020 by Jamel Toppin for Forbes.



The second year of the Covid-19 pandemic continued to be a boon to the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies that have developed vaccines and therapeutics to combat the virus. With the spread of new variants, the federal government has recommended booster shots and more widespread availability of anti-Covid drugs, as society grapples with the shift towards an endemic virus that will be around for the long haul. Health insurers saw high costs from Covid patients, but these were partially offset by higher enrollment in Obamacare and Medicare Advantage plans and other patients still deferring non-urgent and elective surgeries.

Seven pharmaceutical companies and four health insurers ranked among the top 100 companies in the 2022 Forbes Global 2000, which ranks the world’s biggest public companies. It was a mixed bag in terms of overall rankings in the sector with some companies slipping from last year, while others rose, but only one healthcare company that ranked in the top 100 last year didn’t make the cut. That was GlaxoSmithKline, which fell 31 spots to No. 128 as the U.K.-based company faces activist pressure from billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Advisors, and is in the process of spinning off its consumer unit into a separate company.

UnitedHealth Group was the highest-ranked healthcare company at No. 21 overall – the same spot it held in last year’s ranking. Over the 12 months to April 2022, when the Global 2000 list was finalized, the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company generated $297.6 billion in revenue, $17.5 billion in profits and a market capitalization of $490.2 billion.

The highest-ranked pharmaceutical company was Johnson & Johnson, which came in at No. 39 overall. It was a slight dip from last year, when J&J ranked five spots higher. The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company posted $94.9 billion in revenue, $19.8 billion in profits and a market capitalization of $477.4 billion as of April 20. J&J received emergency use authorization for its single-dose Covid-19 vaccine in February 2021, but its uptake was slowed by reports of a rare but potentially life-threatening blood clotting side effect. Earlier this month, the FDA moved to limit its use to U.S. adults who are unable to access or receive other vaccines.


Table with 6 columns and 11 rows. Currently displaying rows 1 to 11. Sorted ascending by column "Rank"
▲ Rank Name Country Sales (TTM) Profit (TTM) Market Value (TTM)
1 UnitedHealth Group Incorporated United States $297.6 billion $17.5 billion $490.2 billion
2 Johnson & Johnson United States $94.9 billion $19.8 billion $477.4 billion
3 CVS Health Corporation United States $292 billion $7.9 billion $133.5 billion
4 Pfizer Inc. United States $81.5 billion $22 billion $271.8 billion
5 AbbVie, Inc. United States $56.2 billion $11.5 billion $273.8 billion
6 Novartis AG Switzerland $51.6 billion $24.1 billion $200.7 billion
7 Roche Holding AG Switzerland $68.7 billion $15.2 billion $308.1 billion
8 Cigna Corporation United States $174.3 billion $5.4 billion $81.2 billion
9 Merck & Co., Inc. United States $50.4 billion $13 billion $213.8 billion
10 Anthem, Inc. United States $144.3 billion $6.2 billion $121.3 billion
11 Sanofi France $44.6 billion $7.4 billion $136.9 billion

The biggest winner when it came to Covid-19 vaccines was New York-based Pfizer, which moved up 15 spots in the rankings to No. 43. The Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA-based Covid vaccine, Comirnaty, was the fastest selling drug in pharma history, according to a Nature analysis. After receiving emergency use authorization in December 2020, it went from $150 million in sales in 2020 to $36.9 billion in sales in 2021. In December 2021, Pfizer received emergency use authorization for its Covid antiviral Paxlovid, which can be taken by mouth. The other mRNA-based vaccine player Moderna rose more than 1,200 spots in the rankings, as its 2021 performance catapulted the tiny Cambridge-based biotech to No. 372. Moderna, which also received its emergency use authorization in December 2020, recorded $17.7 billion in vaccine sales in 2021.

The pandemic bump won’t last forever as it remains to be seen what the need for vaccines and boosters will be in 2022. More than 11.5 billion vaccines have been administered so far worldwide with around 4.6 billion people of the world’s more than 7.8 billion total population fully vaccinated, according to the World Health Organization. While the exact cadence of boosters is not yet clear, public health experts acknowledge Covid-19 vaccines will be required at regular intervals, similar to annual flu vaccines. Pfizer is estimating $32 billion in Covid vaccine sales in 2022, which is $5 billion less than 2021. Moderna has signed purchase agreements totaling $21 billion for 2022, and is expecting additional orders, including larger sales in the second half of the year, according to its latest earnings report.

Drugmaker AbbeVie rose 7 spots in this year’s rankings to No. 67 thanks to its top-selling drug Humira, which was second to Pfizer’s Comirnaty, according to Nature. The injectable biologic, which is approved to treat a range of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and psoriasis, saw $20.7 billion in sales in 2021, up from $19.8 billion in 2022.

The other top healthcare companies include Rhode Island-based CVS Health at No. 42, Switzerland-based Novartis at No. 68, Switzerland-based Roche at No. 72, Connecticut-based Cigna at No. 84, New Jersey-based Merck at No. 87, Indiana-based Anthem at No. No. 88 and France-based Sanofi at No. 99.

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