Novartis wins on quantity, but Eli Lilly takes the cake on value of new launches: report

New drugs are a staple of the pharmaceutical industry and a key strategy for drugmakers to deliver long-term growth. But, according to a new report by Evaluate Vantage, quantity doesn’t always trump quality.

While Novartis leads the Big Pharma pack with the most launches over the past five years, Eli Lilly’s new drugs have the most value, Evaluate Vantage reports. Novartis’ 14 new approvals over that timeline rank “thoroughly middle table” in terms of value, according to Evaluate’s analysis. On the flip side, Eli Lilly's Mounjaro has the highest value of any new launch at $27.5 billion.

The analysis covers approvals for new molecular entities between January 2017 and June 2022 at Novartis, Merck & Co., Roche, Sanofi, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, GSK, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb and AbbVie. Evaluate's team didn't include approvals for subsequent indications.

Of the group, AbbVie, Bristol Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson had the least new molecular approvals with five, while Merck & Co. fell slightly behind Novartis with 11. Novartis’ total value mostly centered around its three recent approvals for PCSK9 drug Leqvio, kinase inhibitor Scemblix and radiopharmaceutical Pluvicto. Leqvio, valued at $10.6 billion, is the third most valuable therapy from a Big Pharma in the past 18 months.

As for Eli Lilly's Mounjaro, the Type 2 diabetes drug is in the running to be “the biggest drug ever,” analysts at UBS said last week, with the potential to secure $25 billion in peak sales. Aside from its approved diabetes use, Eli Lilly is also seeking a potential approval to treat obesity. 

Lilly’s group of medicines ranked the company at the top of Evalute’s net present value analysis. In fact, its eight launches since 2017 make up more than half the value of its total portfolio. That's a significant turnaround as back in 2016, Lilly was relying on older pharmaceutical products for 86% of its sales, Evaluate Vantage reported at the time.

For Novartis, the company is seeing plenty of changes of its own. The Swiss drugmaker is working through a global restructuring that will combine its oncology and pharmaceutical units. It's planning around 8,000 job cuts and also recently laid out plans to become a Top 5 drugmaker in the U.S.