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As of 2014, the global pharmaceutical market was worth about $1 trillion US dollars in sales and is expected to increase by US$300 billion within next two years. The ten largest companies with annual sales over $20 billion controlled over one-third of this market. The biggest pharmaceutical companies by sales according to the 2015 edition of Financial Times Global 500 companies are Jonhson & Johnson, Pfizer, Novartis, Roche, and Merck.
The industry is poised for rapid market expansion and R&D growth - which is of particular importance to the pharmaceutical industry - in developing countries such as Brazil, China, and India that could foreshadow a significant market shift for the industry. Today, the pharmaceutical industry, as well as information and communications technology and automobiles, is considered to be a highly R&D intensive sector with an average of 13 percent of net sales dedicated to R&D. Of the world's top 2,500 companies that invested in R&D in 2014 - spending a €607.2 billion, or about 90% of the world's total - 316 were from the pharma & biotech sector. These companies' combined R&D spending accounted for 15 percent of the global R&D investment that year. Moreover, the pharma & biotech industry achieved an R&D spending increase that was 6.8 percent above the world average in 2014.
However significant R&D expenditures are relative to the global net sales of the industry, the R&D price tag is only half as much as pharma companies' expenditures on marketing and far exceeds spending on public information on health. This leads to a conflict of interest between the business goals of manufacturers and social needs to select drugs based on best information available. Pharmaceutical companies have a role to play across several aspects of public health promotion and education, particularly in relation to shifting demographics and deficits in public health care.