Humira elbows Avastin aside in top-drug ranking

They have seen the future, and it is Humira. Market researchers EvaluatePharma have crunched the numbers on big-drug sales growth, and while their conclusions might not make Roche super-happy, they're sure to inspire high fives at Abbott Laboratories' (NYSE: ABT) headquarters: By 2016, the arthritis remedy Humira will be the world's biggest-selling drug.

Humira sales are expected to grow by 9 percent each year, so it will be raking in $10.1 billion in annual sales by 2016. According to the report, Humira will easily outsell Roche's (OTC: RHHBY) cancer drug Avastin, which had been pegged as the likely victor in the biggest-blockbuster-of-all sweepstakes. EvaluatePharma expects Avastin to reach $8.9 billion in 2016 sales.

Why the switch? As Bloomberg notes, EvaluatePharma cites "clinical setbacks" in Roche's bid to broaden Avastin use. The drug recently failed a couple of clinical trials meant to support new indications in prostate cancer and stomach cancer. However, it did perform well in a test against ovarian cancer. The company has said it's continuing its drive for additional indications; other Avastin trials are ongoing.

Rounding out the top five in EvaluatePharma's calculations are Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Amgen's (NASDAQ: AMGN) Enbrel, an anti-inflammatory expected to reach $7.3 billion in sales by 2016; Roche's cancer drug Rituxan, with a 3 percent compound growth rate and $6.8 billion in 2016 sales; and AstraZeneca's (NYSE: AZN) statin drug Crestor, with 4 percent CAGR and $6.3 billion in 2016 revenue. See the ranking for more.

- check out EvaluatePharma's ranking
- read the Bloomberg story (sub. req)
- see EvaluatePharma's release for more