AZ's Nexium tops Q2 sales ranks, with BMS' Abilify on its heels

Now that Plavix and Lipitor are down for the count, AstraZeneca's ($AZN) Nexium is the reigning heavyweight drug champion. According to, the stomach drug outsold all other branded drugs during the second quarter, with $1.38 billion in revenues. But Nexium's dominance could be short-lived. The atypical antipsychotic Abilify, at $1.379 billion in second-quarter sales, could be a contender.

Nexium's sales for the period were actually down a notch--and that's after a quarter-by-quarter slide since the first quarter of 2011. And judging from script volume, the drug held its own because of price increases. While revenues dropped 1.12% for the second quarter and 3.08% for the first, units fell by 2.05% and 6.18%, respectively.

Abilify is apparently benefiting from increased prices, too. The Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY)/Otsuka Pharmaceutical drug saw sales grow by 2.91% for Q2, on volume growth of 0.28%. Over the previous several quarters, however, volume has waxed and waned, with drops in the third quarter of 2011--when its atypical antipsychotic rival Zyprexa got its first taste of generic competition--and the first quarter of 2012, when Seroquel lost exclusivity.

So, first place could be up for grabs next quarter. And third place--now occupied by Merck's ($MRK) Singulair, with $1.288 billion in Q2 sales--will definitely open up. The big-selling asthma-and-allergy remedy lost its monopoly status earlier this month. Ironically, one drug that could take Singulair's place--No. 4, GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Advair Diskus--is already off patent, but because of drug-delivery difficulties, has no direct, substitutable generic competition yet.

Rounding out the top five is Crestor, another AstraZeneca drug. Its sales grew by 0.61% during the quarter, despite script numbers that dipped markedly during the first quarter of 2012, no doubt because blockbuster rival Lipitor went generic late last year. Crestor scripts grew by almost 5% for Q4, then dropped by 3.7%, then grew again last quarter by 2.8%.

Fast-growing Cymbalta, the Eli Lilly ($LLY) antidepressant, and even faster-growing Humira, the Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) anti-inflammatory, might knock out Crestor or Advair--or both. Check out the full 100-drug ranking for more products that are climbing the ranks. Or not.

- check out the stats from

Special Report: Top 10 Drug Advertising Spends -- Q1 2012

Related Articles:
Pfizer, AstraZeneca strike $250M-plus deal for OTC Nexium
Plavix tops U.S. sales ranks, but not for long
Antipsychotics, ADHD meds fuel rising psych-drug use