Big Pharma's cardiovascular sales ain't what they used to be

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Slumping sales for cardiovascular drugs isn't exactly a new phenomenon for Big Pharma, with some of the industry's top drugmakers suffering from recent patent expirations. But a new report shows which CV franchises have been hurt the most.

Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis ($NVS) and Pfizer ($PFE) saw the biggest drops in cardiovascular sales last year, according to a new GlobalData report published by PMLiVE. AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Sanofi ($SNY) also felt the sting of declining heart-drug revenues.

Boehringer saw the largest decline in sales, or 27%, with $2.4 billion in cardiovascular revenue for 2014 compared with $3.3 billion in 2013, according to the GlobalData report. That drop came courtesy of the blood pressure drug Micardis (telmisartan), which lost patent protection last year and quickly faced competition from generics maker Actavis ($ACT).

Things weren't looking up for Novartis in the cardiovascular world, either. Sales of Diovan (valsartan), the blood pressure blockbuster, slid after Ranbaxy Laboratories finally launched its exclusive generic. At its peak, Diovan brought in $6 billion. But last year Novartis only saw $2.3 billion from the drug, which took a 25% bite out of its cardiovascular numbers, according to the GlobalData report. That could change quickly for the Swiss drugmaker, however; it's revving up to launch its much-anticipated heart failure drug LCZ696, expecting FDA approval this year.

Perhaps it's no surprise that Pfizer is struggling with lower cardiovascular sales, either. It's still dealing with the aftermath of Lipitor (atorvastatin)'s patent loss. The cholesterol powerhouse once raked in $13 billion in sales for the company, until generics appeared in 2012. Since then, competition shaved $10 billion off the drug's revenues. Pfizer's overall cardiovascular sales dropped 10% in 2014 to $4.1 billion from $4.6 billion.

AstraZeneca and Sanofi saw their heart drug sales decline last year, but they still snagged the number one and two spots on GlobalData's ranking in the field. AstraZeneca saw a 1% decline in cardiovascular sales last year, while Sanofi saw a 3% drop. AstraZeneca's blockbuster Crestor doesn't face generic competition until 2016, preserving its numbers for the meantime. And even though Sanofi's cardiovascular meds Aprovel, Lovenox and Plavix are experiencing generic headwinds, their sales are still coming. Altogether, Sanofi posted $6.6 billion in sales for its cardiovascular meds last year, while AstraZeneca had $7.6 billion in sales.

Special Reports: Top 10 Cardio Drugs 2012 | Top 10 Drug Patent Losses of 2014 - Micardis/Micardis HCT, Boehringer Ingelheim | The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - AstraZeneca - Pfizer - Novartis | The 10 best-selling drugs of 2013 - Crestor