phar·​ma ˈfär-mə How to pronounce pharma (audio)
: a pharmaceutical company
also : large pharmaceutical companies as a group

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Sanofi fell after the French pharma giant reported fourth-quarter results that missed estimates, which analysts attributed mainly to weak sales for the vaccines unit. Elena Popina, Fortune, 4 Feb. 2023 The deal gives the U.K. pharma giant global rights to the baxdrostat cardiorenal drug and comes barely a year after CinCor went public on Nasdaq. Laura Cooper, WSJ, 9 Jan. 2023 Big pharma cashing in on experiences many take as spiritual rubs some the wrong way. Justin Higginbottom, The New Republic, 3 Jan. 2023 The British pharma company AstraZeneca will occupy one of two new office-and-lab buildings, relocating about 1,600 of its employees from Waltham and Boston. Scott Kirsner,, 13 Nov. 2022 Swiss pharma firm Merck is also testing an antiviral tablet to treat Covid-19, molnupiravir, and expects data from late-stage clinical trials by the end of the year. Robert Hart, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 Energy companies, big industries, big pharma and the like are the ones pushing this agenda of the Court. Richard Schiffman, Scientific American, 8 July 2022 The argument goes that biotech has become so cheap that big pharma—staring down a patent cliff and armed with hundreds of billions of dollars of dry powder for acquisitions—will come to the rescue. David Wainer, WSJ, 30 June 2022 If nothing is passed by the time the Senate goes into recess in August, investors will start feeling more comfortable upping their pharma and biotech bets in anticipation of a poor showing for Democrats in the fall. David Wainer, WSJ, 17 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pharma.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


short for pharmaceutical

First Known Use

1992, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pharma was in 1992

Dictionary Entries Near pharma

Cite this Entry

“Pharma.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition


phar·​ma ˈfär-mə How to pronounce pharma (audio)
: a pharmaceutical company
But the rate at which pharmas have grown in size pales beside the acceleration of relevant scientific knowledge during the same period.Science
also : large pharmaceutical companies as a group
Another issue pharma will face is an even more cost-conscious consumer as a result of insurers continuing to pass on additional costs to their members. Shaun Urban, Medical Marketing and Media
The Medicare prescription drug benefit enacted in 2003, and scheduled to go into effect in 2006, promises a windfall for big pharma since it forbids the government from negotiating prices. Marcia Angell, The New York Review of Books
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