Barack Obama and Sir Michael Rawlins occupy the top two places in a list of the forty most influential people in the pharmaceutical industry, while the highest place for a pharmaceutical chief executive, at fifth, is Teva boss Shlomo Yanai.

The list, which has been compiled by World Pharmaceutical Frontiers, puts the US president at number one, as the magazine points that “regulations will be the greatest definer of the year ahead”. Sir Michael, head of the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence comes in at number two, up from fifth last year, “signifying NICE’s lead position as the world standard setter”.

They are followed by the executive director of the European Medicines Agency, Thomas Lonngren, and Janet Woodcock, chief, of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. After Mr Yanai, come Bill and Melinda Gates in sixth place, while the seventh and eighth slots are held by Shao Mingli and Surinder Singh, the heads of China and India’s regulatory bodies, respectively.

Novartis chief executive Daniel Vasella comes next followed by Genentech boss Arthur Levinson. GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty is 11th, and other big pharma bosses on the list include Merck & Co’s Richard Clark (16) Bayer Health Care’s Arthur Higgins (20), Bristol-Myers Squibb’s James Cornelius (25) and Sanofi-Aventis’ Chris Viehbacher (26).

Interestingly, the list puts Pfizer's head of R&D, Martin Mackay (18) ahead of his CEO Jeffrey Kindler (39).