Adalimumab (Humira, AbbVie) remains the top selling drug for 2 years running, racking up $19.9 billion in global sales in 2018 and $18.4 billion in 2017, according to a biobusiness brief in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.
Two factors that might keep Humira on top a bit longer: AbbVie recently increased by 6.2% the list price of the blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis treatment. In late 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a biosimilar of Humira (Hyrimoz, Sandoz), but due to the patent protection, it won’t hit the market until 2023.
The programmed cell death–ligand-1 (PD-L1) inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck) for lung cancer and other tumor types jumped from outside the top 10 last year to third on this year’s list. Sales of pembrolizumab reached $7.2 billion in 2018 compared with sales of just $3.8 billion a year earlier, according to the Nature brief by Lisa Urquhart of EP Vantage, London, UK.
A rival checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab (Opdivo, Bristol-Myers Squibb), with a variety of approved indications including lung cancer and melanoma, also broke into the top 10 this year, taking the number 7 spot, with sales of $6.7 billion in 2018, up from $4.9 billion in 2017.
Wedged in between the two immunotherapies are three other cancer drugs, all from Roche:
– Trastuzumab (Herceptin) sits fourth on the list of top sellers, bringing in $7.1 billion in 2018, with no change from 2017 sales.
– Bevacizumab (Avastin) holds the number 5 spot with sales of $7 billion in 2018, up slightly from $6.8 billion in 2017.
– Rituximab (Rituxan) sits at number 6 with $6.9 billion in sales in 2018, down from $7.5 billion in 2017.
It’s unclear how long these three cancer brand-name drugs will remain in the top 10 given recent the approval of biosimilars in the US for each one.
Rounding out the top 10 is apixaban (Eliquis, Bristol-Myers Squibb) at number 8. The direct factor Xa inhibitor used for treatment of venous thromboembolic events and prevention of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation had 2018 sales of $6.4 billion, up from $4.9 billion in 2017.
The pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13 (Pfizer) ranked ninth on the list with sales of $5.8 billion in 2018 ($5.6 billion in 2017).
Ustekinumab (Stelara, Johnson & Johnson) is number 10 on the list. The interleukin-12/interleukin-23 inhibitor used for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, active psoriatic arthritis, and moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease, had sales of $5.7 billion in 2018, up from $4 billion a year earlier.
Top 15 Best Selling Drugs 2018
Below is GEN’s updated top 15 list of top-selling prescription drugs. The drug that topped the list of 2017 best-sellers also led GEN’s first list of best-selling drugs in 2013, when it generated $10.659 billion—an 87% jump over five years.
Top-selling drugs are ranked based on sales or revenue reported for 2018 by bio/pharma companies in press announcements, annual reports, investor materials, and/or conference calls. Each drug is listed by name, sponsor(s), diseases indicated, 2018 sales, 2017 sales, and the percentage change between both years.
Ten of last year’s 15 top-selling drugs registered year-over-year sales gains, with six of the 10 racking up double-digit increases. The rest of the list saw sales declines from 2017, most often reflecting the launch of generic competitors or insurer discounts.
Ranking #20 through #16 are treatments that generated between $4 billion and approximately $4.7 billion last year—Sanofi’s Lantus® (insulin glargine), Pfizer’s Ibrance® (palbociclib), Biogen’s Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate), Gilead Sciences’ Genvoya® (elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, tenofovir alafenamide); and Amgen/Kyowa Hakko Kirin’s Neulasta® / Peglasta® (pegfilgrastim), which cracked last year’s Top 15.
This year as last, cancer continues to be the top disease category with 6 of the 15 top sellers, including 3 of the top 5, while arthritis grew to 5 (from 4 last year) as Janssen Biotech (Johnson & Johnson)’s Stelara® (ustekinumab) made the list. Also new this year is Merck & Co.’s Keytruda® (pembrolizumab), which placed within the top 5.
#15. Lyrica® (pregabaliln)
2018 Sales: $4.970 billion 1
2017 Sales: $5.065 billion 1
% Change: –1.9%
#14. Stelara (ustekinumab)
Janssen Biotech (Johnson & Johnson)
2018 Sales: $5.156 billion
2017 Sales: $4.011 billion
% Change: 28.5%
#13. Prevnar 13® / Prevenar 13® (Pneumococcal 13-valent Conjugate Vaccine [Diphtheria CRM197 Protein]
2018 Sales: $5.802 billion
2017 Sales: $5.601 billion
% Change: 3.6%
#12. Remicade® (infliximab)
Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co.
2018 Sales: $5.908 billion ($5.326 billion J&J + $0.582 billion Merck)
2017 Sales: $7.152 billion ($6.315 billion J&J + $0.837 billion Merck)
% Change: –17.4%
#11. Eylea® (aflibercept)
Bayer and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
2018 Sales: $6.551 billion ($2.474 billion [€2.185 billion] Bayer + $4.077 billion Regeneron)
2017 Sales: $5.830 billion ($2.128 billion [€1.880 billion] Bayer + $3.702 billion Regeneron)
% Change: 12.4%
Bayer and Johnson & Johnson
2018 Sales: $6.589 billion ($4.112 billion [€3.631 billion] Bayer + $2.477 billion J&J)
2017 Sales: $6.234 billion ($3.734 billion [€3.298 billion] Bayer + $2.500 billion J&J)
% Change: 5.8%
#9. Rituxan® (also sold as MabThera; rituximab)
Roche (Genentech) and Biogen 2
2018 Sales: $6.750 billion [CHF 6.752 billion] 2
2017 Sales: $7.298 billion [CHF 7.300 billion] 2
% Change: –7.5%
#8. Avastin® (bevacizumab)
2018 Sales: $6.847 billion (CHF 6.849 billion)
2017 Sales: $6.686 billion (CHF 6.688 billion)
% Change: 2.4%
#7. Herceptin® (trastuzumab)
2018 Sales: $6.981 billion (CHF 6.982 billion)
2017 Sales: $7.013 billion (CHF 7.014 billion)
% Change: –0.5%
#6. Enbrel® (etanercept)
Amgen and Pfizer
2018 Sales: $7.126 billion ($5.014 billion Amgen + $2.112 billion Pfizer) 3
2017 Sales: $7.885 billion ($5.433 billion Amgen + $2.452 billion Pfizer) 3
% Change: –9.6%
#5. Keytruda® (pembrolizumab)
Merck & Co.
2018 Sales: $7.171 billion
2017 Sales: $3.809 billion
% Change: 88.3%
#4. Opdivo® (nivolumed)
Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical
2018 Sales: $7.570 billion ($6.735 billion BMS + $835 million [¥92.5 billion] Ono)
2017 Sales: $5.763 billion ($4.948 billion BMS + $815 million [¥90.2 billion] Ono)
% Change: 31.4%
#3. Revlimid (lenalidomide)
2018 Sales: $9.685 billion
2017 Sales: $8.187 billion
% Change: 18.3%
#2. Eliquis® (apixaban)
Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer
2018 Sales: $9.872 billion ($6.438 billion BMS + $3.434 billion Pfizer) 4
2017 Sales: $7.395 billion ($4.872 billion BMS + $2.523 billion Pfizer) 4
% Change: 33.5%
#1. Humira® (adalimumab)
2018 Sales: $19.936 billion
2017 Sales: $18.427 billion
% Change: 8.2%
1. Pfizer lists separately the Lyrica revenues generated in all of Europe, Russia, Turkey, Israel, and Central Asia countries ($347 million in 2018, $553 million in 2017). Those revenues are listed by Pfizer’s “Essential Health” operating segment, while its “Innovative Health” segment records Lyrica revenues generated elsewhere in the world, including the U.S. ($4.622 billion in 2018, $4.511 billion in 2017).
2. Biogen receives a share of U.S. pre-tax profits on sales of Rituxan, which is marketed by Genentech (Roche). Sales figures do not include U.S. pre-tax profits generated by Biogen, since the company only discloses those profits combined with profits from Gazyva® (obinutuzumab), and does not break out each product separately. Biogen reported combined Rituxan-Gazyva pre-tax profits of $1.432 billion for 2018, and $1.316 billion for 2017.
3. Pfizer markets Enbrel outside the U.S. and Canada, where the treatment is marketed by Amgen.
4. Pfizer figures for Eliquis consist of “alliance revenues” reflecting products co-developed with partner companies, as well as direct sales in some regions of the world.
Top 25 Pharm Best Sellers:
Six of the best-selling drugs have indications for forms of cancer. [©Saharrr/Fotolia.com] via Geneng (Genome Study) News: Bad press didn’t hurt Sovaldi™ (sofosbuvir) after all. The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment drew the wrath of three members of Congress, who demanded that developer Gilead Sciences justify its $84,000 price for a full 12-week treatment course of Sovaldi. The company offered its justification and didn’t have to worry about too much fallout from the criticism, since its three Congressional critics were top Democrats in the Republican-majority House of Representatives.
Even better for Gilead, which barely began marketing Sovaldi at the end of 2013, sales of the HCV treatment zoomed into eight figures—high enough to place near the top of GEN’s latest version of its List of Top 25 Best-Selling Drugs, reflecting drug sales reported for 2014.
Unlike last year’s Top 25 Best-Selling Drugs of 2013, this year’s list had only 24 drugs generating total sales of $3 billion or more. That allowed the 25th best-selling drug of 2014 to make this year’s list (it appeared in GEN’s Top 20 Best-Selling Drugs list in 2012 but missed 2013), despite sales in only the high-$2 billion range.
Biopharma is in a transition period as the blockbusters of the past decade fade. They have either fallen off the proverbial patent cliff (Novartis’ Diovan, which lost US exclusivity in 2012) or succumbed to a stronger U.S. dollar against European and Asian currencies despite rising sales (Novo Nordisk’s NovoLog, which also missed this year’s list). At the same time, the next generation of multi-billion-dollar drugs takes time to build the billions in sales needed to make the best-seller list—but can be expected to do so starting next year.