The patent cliff may still be weighing on some companies, which will see their revenues dip for 2014. But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of products enjoying big-time growth. According to FirstWord Pharma, over the past four quarters, the 50 biggest-growing drugs delivered an absolute sales increase of $31 billion to their makers. While the top 5 slots on FWP's list are filled with a who's who of recent, high-power launches, AbbVie ($ABBV) stalwart Humira is right up there with the new rollouts--and the list holds a few surprises lower down, too.
Gilead's ($GILD) Sovaldi, which made the quickest trip to the blockbuster threshold of all time, unsurprisingly holds the top position, kicking in $8 billion--or 27% of the combined growth generated by the drugs on the list, FirstWord notes. Joining it at the top are Biogen Idec's ($BIIB) hot new MS pill Tecfidera, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Bayer's new-age clot-fighter Xarelto, and forecast-trouncing eye drug Eylea from Regeneron ($REGN) and Bayer.
But holding down third place is a drug nearing the end of its patent life in Humira. Despite its age, the veteran put up $1.899 billion in growth over the measured span compared with its haul from the four previous quarters.
Humira's not the only aging giant still putting up impressive growth numbers. J&J's Remicade and Celgene's ($CELG) Revlimid each delivered more than $600 million over their previous totals, and Sanofi's ($SNY) Lantus kicked it up a notch with a $542 million increase. AstraZeneca ($AZN) respiratory star Symbicort--which is starting to see some generic competition--churned out a $401 million sales increase.
Lower down, there's Eliquis in 18th place. The Pfizer ($PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) joint effort is picking up the pace after a disappointing launch that currently has it sitting behind Xarelto and Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa in a three-horse race for the next-gen anticoagulant crown (although Pradaxa, first to hit the market, did not make the list itself).
And luckily for GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), a pair of its new launches--Tivicay for HIV and Tafinlar for melanoma--appear in the top 50, partially offsetting lagging launches for COPD due Breo and Anoro as top seller Advair's revenue wanes.
- see the list from FirstWord
Special Reports: Top 15 Drug Launch Superstars | The 10 best-selling drugs of 2013