GEN Exclusives

More »

The Lists

More »
February 23, 2015

The Top 25 Best-Selling Drugs of 2014

Blockbusters Do Better, with One Newcomer Reaching #2 in its First Year

The Top 25 Best-Selling Drugs of 2014

Six of the best-selling drugs have indications for forms of cancer. [©Saharrr/]

  • 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.

    At the top, last year’s winner finished #1 again, and with higher sales than 2013. Indeed more than half (16) of the Top 25 best-selling drugs did better in 2014 than the previous year. Among the top three disease categories, six best-selling drugs have indications for forms of cancer, and five for arthritis. Five indications—asthma/COPD, diabetes, heart disease, HIV, and multiple sclerosis—are each represented on the list by two best sellers.

    One likely top-seller of 2014 not on the list is Boehringer Ingelheim’s Spiriva, which racked up €3.552 billion ($4.019 billion) in 2013. However, BI will not release full-year 2014 data until April 22, just as it waited until April 2014 to release 2013 data, explaining its absence from GEN’s list.

    Top-selling drugs are ranked based on sales or revenue reported for 2014 by biopharma companies in press announcements, annual reports, investor materials, and/or conference calls. Each drug is listed by name, sponsor(s), diseases indicated, 2014 sales, 2013 sales, and the percentage change between both years.

  • #25. Celebrex

    Sponsor(s): Pfizer

    Indication(s): Osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in patients two years and older; ankylosing spondylitis; acute pain; primary dysmenorrhea

    2014 sales: $2.699 billion

    2013 sales: $2.918 billion

    % Change: (7.5%)

  • #24. Avonex

    Sponsor(s): Biogen Idec

    Indication(s): Relapsing forms of MS, to slow accumulation of physical disability and decrease frequency of clinical exacerbations

    2014 sales: $3.013.1 billion

    2013 sales: $3.005.5 billion

    % Change: 0.3%

  • #23. Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate)

    Sponsor(s): Gilead Sciences

    Indication(s): HIV-1 infection in adults and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older (with other antiretroviral agents); pre-exposure prophylaxis to reduce risk of sexually-acquired HIV-1 in high-risk adults (with safer sex practices)

    2014 sales: $3.340 billion

    2013 sales: $3.136 billion

    % Change: 6.5%

  • #22. Atripla (efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir)

    Sponsor(s): Gilead Sciences and Bristol-Myers Squibb1

    Indication(s): HIV-1 infection in adults and children 12 years and older, alone or with other antiretroviral agents

    2014 sales: $3.470 billion1

    2013 sales: $3.648 billion1

    % Change: (4.9%)

  • #21. Nexium (esomeprazole)

    Sponsor(s): AstraZeneca

    Indication(s): Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); Risk reduction of NSAID-associated gastric ulcers in at-risk patients; H.pylori eradication to reduce the risk of duodenal ulcer recurrence; pathological hypersecretory conditions, including Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

    2014 sales: $3.655 billion

    2013 sales: $3.872 billion

    % Change: (5.6%)

  • #20. Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol)

    Sponsor(s): AstraZeneca

    Indication(s): Asthma in patients aged 12+; maintenance treatment of airflow obstruction in patients with COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema

    2014 sales: $3.801 billion

    2013 sales: $3.483 billion

    % Change: 9.1%

  • #19. Januvia (sitagliptin)

    Sponsor(s): Merck & Co.

    Indication(s): Type 2 diabetes in adults

    2014 sales: $3.931 billion

    2013 sales: $4.004 billion

    % Change: (1.8%)

  • #18. Zetia / Vytorin (ezetimibe)

    Sponsor(s): Merck & Co.

    Indication(s): Adjunct to diet to reduce elevated total-C, LDL-C, Apo B, and non-HDL-C in patients with primary hyperlipidemia, alone or in combination with an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor (statin); Reduce elevated total-C, LDL-C, Apo B, and non-HDL-C in patients with mixed hyperlipidemia in combination with fenofibrate; Reduce elevated total-C and LDL-C in patients with homozygous familial ypercholesterolemia (HoFH), in combination with atorvastatin or simvastatin; Reduce elevated sitosterol and campesterol in patients with homozygous sitosterolemia (phytosterolemia)

    2014 sales: $4.166 billion

    2013 sales: $4.300 billion

    % Change: (3.1%)

  • #17. Copaxone (glatiramer)

    Sponsor(s): Teva Pharmaceutical Industries

    Indication(s): Relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis

    2014 sales: $4.237 billion

    2013 sales: $4.328 billion

    % Change: (2.1%)

  • #16. Prevnar family2

    Sponsor(s): Pfizer

    Indication(s): Prevention of diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19A, 19F, and 23F in children ages six weeks through 17 years; prevention of otitis media caused by strains 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, and 23F in children six weeks through five years; prevention of pneumococcal pneumonia and invasive disease caused by the 13 vaccine strains in adults ages 50 and older

    2014 sales: $4.464 billion

    2013 sales: $3.974 billion

    % Change: 12.3%

  • #15. Gleevec (also sold as Glivec, imatinib mesylate)

    Sponsor(s): Novartis

    Indication(s): Newly-diagnosed adult and pediatric patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia (Ph+ CML) in chronic phase; patients with Ph+ CML in blast crisis, accelerated phase;  adults with relapsed or refractory Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL); pediatric patients with newly-diagnosed PH= ALL in combination with chemotherapy; adults with myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative diseases associated with platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) gene re-arrangements; adults with aggressive systemic mastocytosis without the D816V c-KIT mutation or with c-KIT mutational status unknown; adults with hypereosinophilic syndrome and/or chronic eosinophilic leukemia who have the FIP1L1-PDGFRα fusion kinase (mutational analysis or FISH demonstration of CHIC2 allele deletion) and for patients with HES and/or CEL who are FIP1L1-PDGFRα fusion kinase negative or unknown; adults with unresectable, recurrent, and/or metastatic dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans; patients with KIT (CD117)-positive unresectable and/or metastatic malignant gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs); adjuvant treatment of adults following resection of KIT (CD117)-positive GIST

    2014 sales: $4.746 billion

    2013 sales: $4.693 billion

    % Change: 1.1%

Related content