Projected 2018 sales: $2.017 billion
2012 sales: $2.594 billion
Eli Lilly ($LLY) needs revenue from Alimta, and it needs it badly. The Indianapolis-based company is leaning on the cancer drug to stop up holes left by leading moneymakers that have gone off patent, and it's also engaged in a war with Teva ($TEVA) over Alimta's own patent, which expires in 2016.
Lilly has tried to generate some of that revenue through additional approvals for the drug, which was originally approved for malignant pleural mesothelioma--the first drug to specifically target mesothelioma when it gained approval in 2004. In 2008, it was approved for non-small cell lung cancer, and in 2009 as a maintenance therapy for the same disease. Lung cancer is a much vaster market, and sales showed it--2011's $1.04 billion was a 5% increase over 2010's $991 million.
But in addition to that success, the drug has been battered by a barrage of late-stage failures, including that of an anticipated use in head and neck cancer in 2010. Most recently, in early June, Lilly announced that Alimta did not meet primary endpoints of showing improved progression-free survival without grade four adverse events in a comparison study as a treatment for nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer.
Eli Lilly does still have a hope of retaining 5 more years of patent protection on Alimta. It's trying to block Teva with its method-of-use patent, which covers the use of folic acid and vitamin B-12 for patients taking the drug.
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