Guide to researching the pharmaceutical industry

Your guide to the pharmaceutical industry
This guide makes research easier to swallow.  😉


The purpose of this guide is to point business researchers to some key resources when researching the pharmaceuticals industry. This guide contains several of the key and highly recommended resources when analyzing the industry and researching the companies in the industry. I’ve listed the databases and resources below, with recommendations on how to find the best information in the quickest fashion.

The guide starts with resources for performing an industry analysis, but don’t miss the top picks for company analysis further down the page. For additional tips, take a look at my guides for Industry Research Basics and Company Research Basics.

For help citing the resources on this page, see the Guide to APA format.

Best Bets for Industry Analysis

The resources in this section are the best bets for analyzing the broad industry.

Encyclopedia of American Industries

(This one is currently having problems off campus.  I am looking into it –Chad )  If you need to know some history of an industry, the Encyclopedia of American Industries is a great resource. Just search for pharmaceuticals to find some excellent background of the industry.


IbisWorld is a good place to get started for a good overview of several sectors of the U.S. industry. Simply search for pharmaceuticals to find relevant reports.

First Research

First Research also offers broad industry overviews, which compliment the reports from IbisWorld quite nicely. You can find reports on “Pharmaceutical Manufacturing,” “Diagnostic Substance Manufacturing,” and more. Many reports offer much better global coverage than IbisWorld.

S&P Net Advantage

S&P NetAdvantage gives extensive coverage of the Pharmaceuticals industry.

  • It has a very good report for the “HealthCare: Pharmaceuticals” Industry. The report includes a lengthy discussion regulation and changes within the industry. The industry reports can be very useful in performing a PEST analysis, particularly when addressing the “economic” area. The report on “Biotechnology” might be or interst as wll.  To find these reports, click on the Industry Tab in NetAvantage, then select the industry in the drop-down menu.

Mergent Online

Mergent Online has industry reports for the Pharmaceuticals industry that cover North America, Asia, and Europe.

  • One you log into Mergent, click the “reports” tab to find Industry reports.


OneSource is another fantastic resource for both company and industry information.

  • Offers excellent global coverage of large industries.


Passport some excellent market research reports on retailing in specific countries. Passport is a great tool to use to understand the industry on an international level.

  • Use the search box in the top right of Passport to search for “pharmaceuticals”.
  • In the list of search results, choose from Analysis or Statistics.
  • It is also useful in finding related company profiles, which include strategy of the companies in the industry.
  • Passport also addresses the broad Political, Economic, Social, and Technological trends affecting industries. This video shows you how to find information from Passport GMID for your PEST analysis.


Mintel has a excellent market research reports that address the consumer side of the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Simply search for “pharmaceuticals” to find reports such as “Pharmaceuticals: The Consumer,” “Heart Health,”, “The Drug Store Shopper,” and more.
  • The market research reports in Mintel cover consumer buying, demand, preferences, market drivers, and other consumer information.


SEC Filings

The 10-k (annual SEC filings) for individual companies in the industry contain financial information for companies, as well as textual descriptions of business strategies, risk factors, competition, and more. Look in Part 1, Item 1 and Item 1A for this information in a company’s 10-K report. You will notice that the companies use some of the similar language found in reports like IBISWorld and others.


Statista is great resource to find some extremely useful statistics for you industry. Simply search for “pharmaceuticals” or “pharmaceutical industry”, or by company or brand to find stats for your project.

Business Source Complete

Business Source Complete has a lot of useful information that can take your research to the next level. I’ve listed here last not because it is the least important, but because I would us articles and reports from Business Source Complete to fill in the gaps of your research.

  • You will find Industry Profiles and Trade Publications that can enhance the broad coverage of other industry reports. Search for “pharmaceuticals” or “pharmaceutical industry”.
  • Look for trade publications such as “Pharmaceutical Technology,” “Drugstore News,” or “Manufacturing Chemist”  for excellent information written by people who are embedded in the industry.
  • A key resource is the “United States Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Report.”


Top Picks for Company Analysis

The following resources are particularly useful when analyzing specific companies in the industry.


OneSource is another fantastic resource for both company and industry information.

Hoover’s Online

Hoover’s Online has great company and industry information.

  • Use the Company tab to search for a particular company to find company financials, competitors, company news, and more.
  • Use the Industry Tab to search for your industry terms to find some excellent industry reports. The industry data comes from First Research, which is the same information found via the First Research interface.

S&P Net Advantage

S&P NetAdvantage is a also a great tool for researching companies.

Mergent Online

Mergent Online is a great tool for looking at both company and industry information.


Factiva is a great resource for looking for news about companies in the industry. You will also find company profiles, financials, ratios, and more in the “Companies & Markets” section of Factiva. This video shows you how to use Factiva effectively when analyzing your company.


In LexisNexis, use the “Get Company Information” search box to search for company information. In addition to company financial information, you will find company news, company organization and subsidiary information, and company legal/lawsuit information.


Featured image courtesy of The Javorac

Related Topics: Business Cluster, Class Guides, Industry Guides