The largest pharmaceutical markets are the US, Europe and Japan. Together, these account for 84% of the $460 billion of global drug and vaccine sales in 2003. Cardiovascular and central nervous system (CNS) medicines are the largest selling therapeutic classes.
Over the last years, there have been many large mergers and acquisitions in the sector, while many companies have divested non-core activities. Although R&D investment has strongly increased over the past decade, many large companies do not have promising R&D pipelines and increasingly pursue growth through enhanced marketing. Outsourcing of production and alliances for R&D, distribution or marketing are common business strategies.