AbbVie’s Humira held onto top spot despite biosimilar threat

Drug is one of several biologics that dominated pharmaceutical sales in 2016

Ann M. Thayer

Among the top 10 pharmaceutical products in 2016, biologics beat out small molecules, and treatments for cancer and inflammation dominated the field. Holding the lead again was Humira, a monoclonal antibody targeting inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. At $16.1 billion in sales, Humira outpaced the next-best-selling drug by more than $6 billion.

In second place is Gilead Sciences’ hepatitis C drug Harvoni, which grew rapidly after launching in late 2014. Sales cooled considerably—but not unexpectedly—this year as successful treatment has led to a decline in the patient population.

The public did get some good news last month when the World Health Organization declared that Zika is no longer a public health emergency. And while health experts stress that efforts to address the virus must continue at full speed, government agencies, health groups, and industry have made some headway in figuring out how to combat it.

Among the firms behind the top products, Roche stands out for having three. But its leading cancer biologics—as well as Humira, Remicade, and Enbrel— will face biosimilar competition.

Top 10 products

AbbVie’s Humira retained the top spot while Gilead’s sales of Harvoni faded

FROM 2015
Humira Antibody AbbVie, Eisai Inflammation 16.1 13
Harvoni Small molecule Gilead Sciences Hepatitis C 9.9 -29
Enbrel Protein Amgen, Pfizer Inflammation 8.7 0
Remicade Antibody Janssen, Merck & Co. Inflammation 8.5 1
Rituxan Antibody Roche Cancer 7.4 4
Revlimid Small molecule Celgene Cancer 7.0 21
Herceptin Antibody Roche Cancer 6.9 5
Avastin Antibody Roche, Chugai Cancer 6.9 1
Lantus Peptide Sanofi Diabetes 6.2 -11
Small molecule Merck & Co. Diabetes 6.1 2

Note: Estimated sales are based on company statements and C&EN calculations.

Leave a comment