Top 10 pharma companies spent more on sales, marketing than R&D in 2020

Seven of the 10 largest drugmakers by revenue in 2020 spent more money on selling and marketing existing drugs than on research and development for new drugs, according to an analysis published Oct. 27 by America's Health Insurance Plans. 

For the analysis, AHIP examined the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies by revenue in 2020 and used their annual reports and other financial filings to compare money spent on research and development to money spent on selling, general and administrative costs. 

Selling and marketing expenses exceeded research and development costs by $36 billion, or 37 percent, for the group as a whole, the analysis found. 

GlaxoSmithKline spent $15 billion on sales and marketing in 2020 compared with $7 billion on research and development. Bayer spent $18 billion on sales and marketing compared with $8 billion for research and development. Johnson & Johnson spent $22 billion on sales and marketing, compared with $12 billion on research and development. 

The three drugmakers that spent more on research and development than on sales and marketing were Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck and Roche. The other drugmakers included in the analysis were AbbVie, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi. 

Find the full analysis here.

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