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March 12, 2018

The Top 15 Best-Selling Drugs of 2017

Amid Talk of Curbing Prices, Most Treatments Show Sales Gains

The Top 15 Best-Selling Drugs of 2017

Nine of last year’s 15 top-selling drugs saw year-over-year sales gains, with five of the nine registering double-digit increases, and a sixth coming close at 9.4%. [400tmax/Getty Images]

  • Even as drug costs remain sky-high enough to anger American patients, several recent developments suggest that key stakeholders may finally be getting the message to do something about them, or at least look like they’re doing something.

    The most recent such development (at deadline) came March 6, when UnitedHealthcare announced it will expand pharmacy discounts to more than 7 million people enrolled in its insured commercial group benefit plans. When the policy is implemented starting next year, the insurer says, consumers will see lower out-of-pocket costs as the insurer shares with them savings from pharmacy manufacturer rebates at the time of purchase.

    UnitedHealthcare’s announcement brought the insurer praise from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. A week earlier, he highlighted proposals to lower drug prices that were contained in both a white paper by the presidential Council of Economic Advisers and included in the $4.4 trillion budget proposed by President Donald Trump for the 2019 federal fiscal year, which starts October 1. One proposal would require insurers and pharmacy benefit managers to share with Part D Medicaid enrollees more of the discounts they receive from drug manufacturers and would allow insurers to cover just one drug per category instead of two. Other proposals would allow up to five states to determine what drugs could be covered, cap out-of-pocket spending for Medicare enrollees, and accelerate development of generic drugs.

    Drug spending in the U.S. is projected to reach $590 billion by 2020, up from $337 billion in 2015, according to insurance industry group America’s Health Insurance Programs (AHIP). Increased sharing of discounts and other actions aimed at lowering prices will reduce profits for Biopharmas, as well as shrink how much they ultimately generate in sales from their therapies.

    Below is GEN’s updated top 15 list of top-selling prescription drugs. The top-selling drug on last year’s list was the same one that topped GEN’s first list of best-selling drugs in 2013, when it generated $10.659 billion—which means that its sales have nearly doubled, rocketing almost 73%, in the past five years.

    Nine of last year’s 15 top-selling drugs saw year-over-year sales gains, with five of the nine registering double-digit increases (and a sixth coming close at 9.4%). The rest of the list saw sales declines since 2016, most often reflecting the launch of generic competitors or insurer discounts.

    Two drugs are new to the best-seller list this year: The Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS)/Pfizer anticoagulant Eliquis® (apixaban) could be ranked for 2017 since unlike the previous year, Pfizer included Eliquis-specific figures in its fourth-quarter results. BMS has another newcomer to the list, the cancer immunotherapy Opdivo® (nivollumab), which outsold its rival Keytruda® (pembrolizumab)—though the Merck & Co. immuno-oncology treatment could appear in future years since it finished No. 21 with $3.809 billion, more than double its 2016 sales (171.6%).

    Just shy of the top 15, ranking #20 through #16, are treatments that all generated between $3.9 billion and $4.4 billion last year—Novo Nordisk’s Victoza® (liraglutide), Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara® (ustekinumab), Biogen’s Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate), GlaxoSmithKline’s Advair® / Seretide® (fluticasone and salmeterol), and Gilead Sciences’ Harvoni® (ledipasvir 90 mg/sofosbuvir 400 mg).

    Among top disease categories, cancer remains on top with six of the 15 top sellers—including three of the top five. Arthritis accounts for four of the top 15, all within the top half of the list, while Crohn’s disease is included among indications for two of the top sellers, and diabetes, just one. Unlike recent years, none of the top 15 drugs are indicated for hepatitis, with Harvoni missing the top 15 following discounts to insurers.

    Top-selling drugs are ranked based on sales or revenue reported for 2017 by biopharma companies in press announcements, annual reports, investor materials, and/or conference calls. Each drug is listed by name, sponsor(s), diseases indicated, 2017 sales, 2016 sales, and the percentage change between both years.

  • #15. Neulasta® / Peglasta® (pegfilgrastim)

    Sponsor(s): Amgen and Kyowa Hakko Kirin1

    Indication(s): Decrease the incidence of infection, as manifested by febrile neutropenia, in patients with nonmyeloid malignancies receiving myelosuppressive anticancer drugs associated with a clinically significant incidence of febrile neutropenia; and increasing survival in patients acutely exposed to myelosuppressive doses of radiation (hematopoietic syndrome or acute radiation syndrome)

    2017 sales: $4.723 billion ($4.534 billion Amgen + $0.189 billion [¥20.1 billion] Kyowa Hakko Kirin 2

    2016 sales: $4.808 billion ($4.648 billion Amgen + $0.160 billion [¥17.0 billion] Kyowa Hakko Kirin 2

    % Change: -1.8%

  • #14. Opdivo® (generic name)

    Sponsor(s): Bristol-Myers Squibb

    Indication(s): BRAF V600 wild-type unresectable or metastatic melanoma; BRAF V600 mutation-positive unresectable or metastatic melanoma; unresectable or metastatic melanoma, in combination with ipilimumab; melanoma with lymph node involvement or metastatic disease in patients who have undergone complete resection, in the adjuvant setting; metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy; advanced renal cell carcinoma in patients who have received prior antiangiogenic therapy; classical Hodgkin lymphoma that has relapsed or progressed in adults after autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and brentuximab vedotin, or three or more lines of systemic therapy that includes autologous HSCT; recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck with disease progression on or after a platinum-based therapy; locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma in patients who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy, or who have disease progression within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy; microsatellite instability–high or mismatch repair deficient metastatic colorectal cancer that has progressed following treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan in patients 12 years and older; hepatocellular carcinoma in patients previously treated with sorafenib

    2017 sales: $4.948 billion

    2016 sales: $3.774 billion

    % Change: 31.1%

  • #13. Lyrica® (pregabaliln)

    Sponsor(s): Pfizer

    Indication(s): Neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN); Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN); Adjunctive therapy for adult patients with partial onset seizures; Fibromyalgia; Neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury

    2017 sales: $5.065 billion3

    2016 sales: $4.966 billion3

    % Change: 2.0%

  • #12. Prevnar 13® / Prevenar 13® (Pneumococcal 13-valent Conjugate Vaccine [Diphtheria CRM197 Protein])

    Sponsor(s): Pfizer

    Indication(s): Prevention of pneumococcal pneumonia and invasive disease caused by 13 Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes (1, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19A, 19F, and 23F) in adults aged 18 and older; prevention of invasive disease caused by the 13 serotypes in children ages 6–17; prevention of invasive disease caused by the 13 serotypes in children ages 6 weeks through 5 years old; prevention of otitis media caused by S. pneumoniae serotypes 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, and 23F in children ages 6 weeks through 5 years old

    2017 sales: $5.601 billion

    2016 sales: $5.718 billion

    % Change: -2.0%

  • #11. Lantus® (insulin glargine)

    Sponsor(s): Sanofi

    Indication(s): Once-daily treatment for improving glycemic control in adults and pediatric patients with type 1 diabetes, and in adults with type 2 diabetes

    2017 sales: $5.732 billion (€4.622 billion)

    2016 sales: $7.086 billion (€5.714 billion)

    % Change: -19.1%

  • #10. Eylea® (aflibercept)

    Sponsor(s): Bayer and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

    Indication(s): Neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration; macular edema following retinal vein occlusion; diabetic macular edema (DME); diabetic retinopathy in patients with DME

    2017 sales: $6.034 billion ($2.332 billion [€1.880 billion Bayer + $3.702 billion Regeneron)

    2016 sales: $5.338 billion ($2.015 billion [€1.625 billion Bayer + $3.323 billion Regeneron)

    % Change: 9.4%

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