Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company


Pfizer’s total revenue in 2022 will hit a record high, reaching US$100.33 billion, a year-on-year increase of 23%, becoming the world’s first pharmaceutical company with annual revenue exceeding US$100 billion.

Company introduction


Pfizer is the world’s largest pharmaceutical company by revenue. With operations in 129 countries around the world, Pfizer’s international sales account for nearly 50% of its total sales. Before August 2020, it was also a constituent stock of the Dow Jones Industrial Index.

Pfizer is mainly divided into three divisions: Global Innovative Medicines (GIP), Global Vaccines, Oncology and Consumer Healthcare (VOC) and Global Existing Medicines (GEP).

  • GIP focuses on developing and registering valuable medicines that can significantly improve patients’ lives.
  • VOC focuses on the development of vaccines or products in the fields of oncology and consumer healthcare (over-the-counter).
  • The existing product business is managed by the Global Existing Pharmaceuticals Division (GEP), including products that are no longer exclusive or whose patents are about to expire. Through the R&D or commercial activities of different departments, the products are differentiated and provide customers with effective, low-cost and high-value solutions.

The company’s century-old history

In 1848, a pair of German cousins came to the United States to develop the popular anthelmintic drug pagoda, and successfully won the first pot of gold.

During the American Civil War in 1861, Pfizer provided chemical substances to the northern army, which brought the company’s business to a higher level and achieved unprecedented development.

In 1871, Anderson joined the company and performed well all the way. In 1905, he was appreciated by the founder Pfizer and promoted to the company’s CEO. In 1910, he and the three sons of the founder Pfizer shared the shares equally and got 25% of the shares. Anderson has played a key role in Pfizer’s growth and transformation throughout the company’s history. He developed a method of producing citric acid with a new fermentation process of black bread mold, allowing Pfizer to completely get rid of the restrictions of European citrus growers and become the largest citric acid manufacturer in the United States.

During the Great Depression, improvements to the production of citric acid saved millions of dollars, and mass production of gluconic acid survived the Great Depression. In 1936, it became the largest fermentation chemical company in the world. Then, based on the technical experience in the production of gluconic acid and citric acid, large-scale mass production of vitamin C began.

Pfizer after listing

On June 22, 1942, Pfizer was successfully listed on the US stock market, and Pfizer transformed from a family business to a publicly listed company.

During World War II, Pfizer provided more than half of the penicillin used by the Allies, and its output and quality were unrivaled. However, because there is no patent, many manufacturers have poured into the field of penicillin production, and the profits are getting lower and lower.

In 1951, Pfizer successfully developed its own patented antibiotic oxytetracycline, which is effective for more than 50 diseases including pneumonia, which opened a new era for Pfizer.

In 1960, the world’s largest Groton laboratory was established, with up to 4,000 R&D personnel. It is the key to the growth of Pfizer in the second half of the 20th century. The anti-inflammatory drug piroxicam in 1982 and the angina pectoris drug nifedipine in 1989 were all developed by this laboratory.

Since the 1990s, although billions of dollars have been invested in research and development, except for the antihypertensive drug Norvasc and the antidepressant drug Uleph, no super heavyweight drugs have appeared. In 1994, Pfizer only ranked sixth in the US pharmaceutical industry.

Strong sales network

Pfizer has also pioneered modern pharmaceutical advertising and sales, and has brought pharmaceutical marketing and channels to the extreme. It firmly believes that “research and development are as important as promoting patients’ access to medicines.” In the middle of the last century, it was the first in the industry to establish a strong network of global pharmaceutical sales representatives, and gradually grew to a team of more than 10,000 people.

They go deep into hospitals and communities, face customers directly, sell medicines and obtain patient information at the same time. Such a sales channel not only continuously sends out Pfizer’s drugs, but also forms a barrier that other brands are difficult to overcome.

Such a sales force not only covers first-level hospitals, but almost all third-level hospitals and second-level hospitals have sales staff from Pfizer. “Multi-channel medical communication” promotional products. “Appropriate research and development + first-class marketing = the right to speak in the international pharmaceutical field” has become Pfizer’s trump card in the battlefield.

My book about pfizer

I have discussed the company Pfizer in two recent books; including:

In my book “The Rules of Super Growth Stocks Investing“:

  • Section 2-3, page 103, discussion on company moats and patents

In my book “The Rules of 10 Baggers“:

  • Sections 3-4, pp. 143-149, discussion on the healthcare and pharma

Research & Development

Pfizer continues to research and develop new drugs in the fields of cancer, inflammation and immunity, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, neuroscience diseases, rare diseases, vaccines and biosimilar drugs.

Famous products


In 1998, Wellsteel went on the market, and this little blue pill achieved unprecedented success. According to statistics, in the whole world, 4 pills of Will steel are taken by patients every second. The success of Weir Steel has accumulated huge wealth for it, which has become the confidence for it to fight in the battlefield.


The antihypertensive drug Lipitor is the world’s first super single product with an annual revenue exceeding 10 billion US dollars.

Despite its high price, Lipitor turned out to be the catalyst for Pfizer’s rise to the top of the pharmaceutical world. Relying on the control of a strong sales channel, Pfizer persuaded the FDA to agree to list the results of the comparative experiment between Lipitor and Micol (a lipid-lowering drug produced by Merck in 1987) in the instructions for Lipitor. The obvious drug effect comparison is very convincing. In order to carry out a “saturation attack” on doctors, Pfizer appointed two teams to promote Lipitor.

On the one hand, it used the company’s internal competition to improve combat effectiveness, and on the other hand, it increased the frequency of contact between doctors and drugs. In 1999, Lipitor’s revenue reached US$3.795 billion, and in 2001 it was raised to US$6.449 billion, making it the world’s best-selling prescription drug. In 2004, its sales reached 10.862 billion US dollars, becoming the world’s first single product with sales exceeding 10 billion. Lipitor, a drug, contributed 20% of Pfizer’s revenue, helping the company become the No. 1 pharmaceutical company in the United States and the No. 2 in the world.


It cooperates with BNT for the new crown vaccine Fubitai (Comirnaty). In 2021, the production volume of its Fubita vaccine will exceed 3 billion doses, with sales of up to 36.9 billion US dollars, making it the fastest-selling drug in pharmaceutical history.


With the support of the new crown vaccine Fubitai and the new crown specific drug Paxlovid, Pfizer will return to the top position of global pharmaceutical companies in revenue in 2021.

The important acquisitions

Sour Pliva

In the early 1990s, it launched the antibiotic Zithromax, which was developed in 1988 by the Croatian company Sour Pliva. Sour Pliva transferred the global production and market development rights of the drug to Pfizer. Because of Pfizer’s almost invincible sales ability, it can even make products come from behind.

Warner Lambert

In the late 1990s, Pfizer focused on the lipid-lowering drug Lipitor, believing it could make it better. The company spent $1.838 billion to terminate the merger of its research and development company Warner Lambert and American Home Products. In 2000, it spent $90 billion to acquire Warner Lambert.


Once rival Wyeth entered its field of vision. In 2008, the sales of Wyeth’s antidepressant drug Enos and gastrointestinal drug Pantoprazole were US$3.9 billion and US$2.7 billion respectively, and the world’s highest-selling vaccine “Prevener” and prescription drug “Enli” were also among them. product. It has 64 drugs under development, 18 drugs under clinical phase III and registration phase, 6 vaccines under development and 27 biological products.

In 2009, Pfizer spent $68 billion to acquire Wyeth, becoming the world’s largest pharmaceutical company. At that time, sales of Pfizer and Wyeth were US$48.3 billion and US$23 billion, respectively. After the merger, Pfizer transformed from a chemical drug giant to a biopharmaceutical giant, and finally made up for nearly 20 years of backward homework, which also laid the foundation for Pfizer’s success in the new crown vaccine.

credit: Pfizer

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