Beyond the biggest drug maker others are topping the tables in 2018

Predicting the world’s biggest sellers of drugs in years to come is only one way to paint a picture of the future of the pharmaceutical industry. Novartis currently holds that title, while on other measures the ranking tables look very different.

For example, Roche is seen remaining the most substantial presence in the biotechnology world until 2018 by a considerable margin, a result of a huge monoclonal antibody franchise that also sees it dominate in oncology, EvaluatePharma data reveal. Novo Nordisk is unsurprisingly forecast to continue its domination of the anti-diabetic space although Merck & Co is set to take the second spot thanks to the success of the DPP-IV inhibitor Januvia, which on current estimates is set to become the world’s top-selling medicine in 2018 (see tables below).

WW Prescription Drug Sales: Top 5 Companies
      WW Prescription Sales ($bn)
Rank Company 2011 2018 % CAGR 11-18
1 Novartis 46.7 51.3 1%
2 Pfizer 53.5 48.2 (1%)
3 Sanofi 39.3 48.2 3%
4 GlaxoSmithKline 34.9 44.9 4%
5 Roche 37.0 43.9 2%

The table above - constructed by EvaluatePharma from equity analysts’ forecasts and available in the World Preview 2018- shows that Novartis is emerging as a clear leader in terms of prescription drug sales in 2018. Behind it Sanofi and Pfizer are neck and neck; a couple of pipeline hits or misses and this league table could easily shift in the coming years.

Novartis’ growth is coming in large part from its expanding generics drug portfolio, via Sandoz, while Sanofi has been elevated by the addition of the Genzyme products it bought last year.

Roche, meanwhile, is seen benefiting largely from growth in new and existing franchises, most notably the breast cancer drugs Perjeta or pertuzumab, which recently won approval in the US, and the antibody drug conjugate trastuzumab-DM1, which should reach the market next year. Both of these biotechnology products and growing demand for Avastin and Actemra will also help keep Roche at the top of the biotech league table, the table below shows.

WW Prescription Drug Sales from Biotechnology in 2018: Top 10 Companies
WW Sales ($bn)
Rank Company 2011 2018 % CAGR 11-18
1 Roche 25.7 32.6 3%
2 Novo Nordisk 11.4 19.6 8%
3 Sanofi 11.5 17.8 6%
4 Pfizer 10.1 14.3 5%
5 Amgen 14.4 13.6 (1%)
6 GlaxoSmithKline 4.7 12.5 15%
7 Johnson & Johnson 6.8 8.5 3%
8 Merck & Co 7.7 8.4 1%
9 Eli Lilly 5.3 8.3 7%
10 Abbott Laboratories 8.1 7.6 (1%)

As the World Preview report reveals elsewhere, biotechnology products (bioengineered vaccines and biologics) will account for 49% of world's top 100 drugs in 2018, up from 34% in 2011. At the same time, the total value of biotechnology sales is set to grow 51% between 2011 and 2018, from $142bn to $215bn.

Roche is set to remain unrivalled king of that castle, with biotech sales reaching $32.6bn by then; Novo’s insulin franchise makes it number two, while thanks to the Genzyme acquisition Sanofi has kept pace.

Amgen, often described as the world’s biggest biotech, risks falling out of the top five, with Glaxo just behind it . Impressive 15% annual growth to 2018 is forecast for the UK drug maker in this category, with success in vaccines and antibodies like Benlysta and Arzerra adding to its biotech sales.

Therapy dominance

As revealed yesterday Roche is also set to continue its domination of the oncology space out to 2018, the largest and one of the fastest growing therapies (Roche adds to pipeline with side bet on CNS, June 19, 2012).

Behind oncology, in terms of projected value in 2018, are diabetes medicines, driven by the surging prevalence of the type II variety across the globe. This therapy area is seen almost doubling in value by 2018 to be worth $58.2bn with many classes of drug contributing to that growth: modern insulins, DPP-IV inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists.

The table below shows that Novo is seen extending its dominance, thanks to growth in its existing insulin franchise and a new addition, degludec, as well as growing demand for the GLP-1 agonist Victoza.

Merck's second place is due largely to the DPP-IV inhibitor Januvia, which as the table at the end of the article reveals is forecast to be the biggest-selling drug in 2018. Consensus forecasts for the product have been creeping up gradually over the past couple of years.

Top 5 Companies & Total WW Anti-Diabetic Sales 2011-18
WW Sales ($m)
Rank Company 2011 2018 % CAGR 11-18
1 Novo Nordisk 9,420 16,733 9%
2 Merck & Co 4,727 9,586 11%
3 Sanofi 6,506 8,007 3%
4 Eli Lilly 3,784 5,320 5%
5 Takeda 4,405 4,059 (1%)

Anti-rheumatics, meanwhile, are seen as the third most-valuable therapy area in 2018, worth $45bn, up from $38bn last year.

Interestingly, none of the top companies in this therapy area are seen registering impressive growth rates over the next few years. Abbott, which tops the table thanks to Humira, is not expected to wring much more growth out of the product in years to come, held back by fierce competition in the anti-TNF class and the entrance of oral agents.

The first, Pfizer's tofacitinib, should be approved later this year.

Top 5 Companies & Total WW Anti-rheumatic Sales 2011-18
WW Sales ($m)
Rank Company 2011 2018 % CAGR 11-18
1 Abbott Laboratories 7,932 7,281 (1%)
2 Pfizer 7,365 6,875 (1%)
3 Johnson & Johnson 4,280 5,372 3%
4 Amgen 3,701 3,103 (2%)
5 Merck & Co 3,362 2,799 (3%)

Finally, on current estimates analysts reckon Januvia will become the biggest-selling drug in 2018, easily robbing Humira of that crown. With a new swathe of GLP-1 agonists approaching the market, which many believe will overcome the tolerability and safety issues that held back the first entrants, it remains to be seen whether Januvia can hit these estimates.

2018: Top 10 Selling Products WW
WW Product Sales ($m)
Rank Product Company Pharmacological Class 2011 2018 % CAGR 11-18
1 Januvia/Janumet Merck + Ono + Almirall DPP-IV inhibitor 5,096 9,705 10%
2 Humira Abbott + Eisai Anti-TNFa MAb 8,236 8,167 (0%)
3 Avastin Roche Anti-VEGF MAb 5,984 7,576 3%
4 Enbrel Amgen + Pfizer + Takeda TNFa inhibitor 7,892 7,187 (1%)
5 Revlimid Celgene Immunomodulator 3,208 6,751 11%
6 Prevnar 13 Pfizer Pneumococcal vaccine 3,657 6,720 9%
7 Rituxan Roche + Biogen Idec Anti-CD20 MAb 6,790 6,335 (1%)
8 Lantus Sanofi Insulin 5,451 5,989 1%
9 Remicade J&J + Merck + Mitsubishi Tanabe Anti-TNFa MAb 7,187 5,841 (3%)
10 Seretide/Advair GSK + Almirall + Faes Beta 2 adrenoreceptor agonist & corticosteroid 8,233 5,734 (5%)

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