Bring out the confetti: 7 of 2013's launches will join Sovaldi, Tecfidera in blockbuster land

Gilead's Sovaldi--Courtesy of Gilead

New drug approvals may have dropped from 2012's high of 43 to 35 last year. But that doesn't mean 2013's crop lacks superstars. On the contrary, 9 newcomers--led by Gilead's ($GILD) hep C wonder Sovaldi--should crack the blockbuster barrier by 2018, according to a new report.

After earning the fastest-launch-of-all-time throne with a Q1 sales total of $2.27 billion, it's no surprise that Sovaldi is projected to front the pack with $5.06 billion in 2018 sales in the U.S. alone, according to EvaluatePharma's annual World Preview report. The Gilead drug accounts for more than one-fifth of the $24.4 billion in U.S. sales EP expects from 2013's new drugs. And that helped boost 2013's total by 43% compared with 2012's.

Gilead isn't the only drugmaker anticipating a multibillion-dollar haul from one of its new drugs. Second on the list is Tecfidera, Biogen Idec's ($BIIB) multiple sclerosis pill. Tecfidera quickly overtook its head-to-head rivals--Novartis' ($NVS) Gilenya and Sanofi's ($SNY) Aubagio--to control the market for oral MS treatments, posting $876 million in 2013 sales. That number will jump to $3.71 billion within 5 years, EP predicts.

Then there's Imbruvica, the leukemia drug from Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Pharmacyclics ($PCYC), which scored not one but three FDA breakthrough designations on its way to its first green light in November. Since then, it's already won a broader approval, a second-line indication in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. And it recently blew competitor Arzerra from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) out of the water in head-to-head trials. All that will help take it from a rare disease treatment into the blockbuster strata. 2018 sales? Those will check in at $2.15 billion, EP says.

Rounding out the list are Roche's ($RHHBY) breast cancer drug Kadcyla; HIV treatment Tivicay from the Glaxo-controlled joint venture ViiV Healthcare; a pair of GSK respiratory meds Breo Ellipta and Anoro Ellipata; J&J diabetes therapy Invokana; and Pomalyst, the new multiple myeloma contender from Celgene ($CELG), expected to round out the blockbuster class with $1.08 billion.

While all of these drugs should prove lucrative for their makers, some companies need the revenue more than others. Glaxo, for instance, is banking on its billionaire trio to step in for the aging Advair, whose $8-billion-plus annual haul is shrinking, thanks to branded and generic competitors in the U.S. and Europe.

- download EP's report

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