Even in the midst of drug pricing wars in the United States, prescription drug sales continue to rise thanks to an increase in novel medicines being developed for niche therapeutic areas.
Case in point, according to a research report from Evaluate Pharma, prescription drug sales are projected to top a staggering US$1.18 trillion by 2024, fueled by technologies such as cell and gene therapy.
Despite that astronomically high figure, a number of patents are set to expire between now and then, which could potentially damp sales.
That being said, Evaluate Pharma states that the most profitable drug sales are ones that have been on the market for years and will continue to rake in the cash between now and 2024.
Here’s a breakdown of what those drugs are, which companies are developing them and what the sales for each are projected to reach during the forecast period.
Projected 2019 to 2024 sales: US$103.95 billion
Humira, which is developed by Big Pharma behemoth AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), entered the market in 2003 and treats a wide range of conditions, including: Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ulcerative colitis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Since its launch, the drug has been additionally approved in the US and the European Union (EU) for hidradenitis suppurativa as well as uveitis in the US, EU and Japan.
According to Evaluate Pharma, Humira raked in sales of US$136.55 billion in sales from the time of its launch to 2018. Total sales are estimated to reach US$240.5 billion by 2024, which is a far cry from its runner up in terms of drug sales.
Evaluate Pharma claims Humira will become the most successful drug in the industry by 2020.
Projected 2019 to 2024 sales: US$15.76 billion
Lipitor is a statin cholesterol medication to treat cardiovascular disease and dyslipidemia.
Between its approval and 2018, sales of Lipitor totaled US$164.43 billion according to Evaluate Pharma data, although its sales declined after it lost patent protection in 2011. While its sales are nowhere near what they used to be, it has been, until now, the best-selling drug of all time. By 2024, total sales of Lipitor are projected to reach US180.19 billion.
Projected 2019 to 2024 sales: US$31.66 billion
Enbrel falls under Amgen’s (NASDAQ:AMGN) umbrella and was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It was originally developed by Immunex, which Amgen acquired in 2002.
Since the first approval, Enbrel has been indicated for polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, plaque psoriasis and pediatric plaque psoriasis.
Between 1998 and 2018, Enbrel sales reached US108.17 billion, with total sales estimated to be US$139.83 billion by 2024.
Projected 2019 to 2024 sales: US$24.57 billion
Rituxan was officially approved by the FDA back in 1997 by Genentech, a company that was acquired by Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) in 2009 in a massive US$46.8 billion deal.
The drug has been approved by the regulatory agency to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, microscopic polyangiitis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis and pemphigus vulgaris.
Over the course of its first 19 years on the market, sales of Rituxan generated US$111.5 billion, with total sales estimated to hit US$136.07 billion by 2024.
Projected 2019 to 2024 sales: US$69.95 billion
Revlimid is the newest drug on this list, with Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) having received approval for the drug by the FDA in 2008.
The drug was initially indicated for multiple myeloma and has since been expanded to treat myelodysplastic syndromes and mantle cell lymphoma.
From approval to 2018, sales of Revlimid totalled US$53.69 billion. It is projected to be a bestseller in the industry between now and 2024 and is projected to reach total sales of US$123.64 billion by then. That being said, Evaluate Pharma indicates that its sales between now and 2024 will depend on the arrival of generic competition before Revlimid’s patent expires in 2022.
Projected 2019 to 2024 sales: US$19.2 billion
Remicade was approved in 1998 with the FDA giving the nod to Janssen Biotech, a division of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ).
The drug was first approved for Crohn’s disease and, since then, has been approved for a wide range of indications including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, pediatric Crohn’s disease, plaque psoriasis and pediatric ulcerative colitis.
From its approval to 2018, sales of Remicade totalled US$98 billion. The drug is expected to reach US$117.2 billion in total sales by 2024.
Projected 2019 to 2024 sales: US$7.97 billion
Amgen received approval by the FDA for Epogen in 1989 to treat anemia in connection with chronic renal failure in patients on dialysis or not on dialysis. Since that first approval, Epogen has also been indicated for certain types of cancer, such as breast, non-small cell lung, head and neck, lymphoid and cervical.
During the first few decades of approval, Epogen sales totaled US$107.9 billion with sales by 2024 projected to hit a total of US$115.87 billion.
Projected 2019 to 2024 sales: US$26.92 billion
Herceptin is another drug developed by Roche’s Genentech, and it received FDA approval in 1998. Herceptin’s first approval was to treat overexpressing breast cancer. It later received approval for HER2-positive metastatic stomach cancer.
From its launch date until 2018, sales of Herceptin touched US$87.97 billion and are projected to reach a total of US$114.89 billion by 2024.
Projected 2019 to 2024 sales: US$27.14 billion
Avastin is the result of a joint development between Genentech and Roche. It received FDA approval in 2004 to treat metastatic colorectal cancer, but it has since received approval for other cancers, such as breast, lung, glioblastoma multiforme, renal cell carcinoma, cervical, ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal.
Sales of Avastin generated US$87.13 billion between 2004 and 2018 and are projected to hit a total of US$114.27 billion by 2024.
Projected 2019 to 2024 sales: US$9.41 billion
Advair is a product developed by GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and received approval from the FDA in 1998. The drug’s intended treatment is for asthma and chronic bronchitis.
Between 1998 and 2018, sales of Advair were US$104.2 billion, and that total number is projected to hit US$113.61 billion by 2024.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.