2016 sales: $3.87 billion
AstraZeneca’s Crestor stands at the top of the cardiovascular drugs heap for 2016, but 2017 will be a different story. Generic versions of the med hit the U.S. market last year after a last-ditch court fight against the FDA, and the brand immediately lost share to the cheaper copycats.
Crestor had a great run while its patent life lasted. It was considered a more powerful choice than other statins, which is one reason why its sales weathered competition from all the generic statins it faced, including copies of Pfizer’s megablockbuster Lipitor. The drug’s sales peaked in 2011, EvaluatePharma says, and over its lifetime, it generated a whopping $62.8 billion in sales.
AstraZeneca, of course, anticipated its quick decline, because multiple generic versions were ready to hit the market as soon as exclusivity lifted. Rather than facing one first-to-file generic, a competitive situation that limits pricing pressure, Crestor would immediately battle an onslaught of copycat drugmakers ready to do what it took to grab their share of the market. So the U.K.-based pharma giant moved to capture as much branded revenue as possible in the waning days of Crestor’s monopoly.
How? By the usual method drugmakers use in similar situations: price increases. AstraZeneca posted street-beating first-quarter sales for the product last year—$1.16 billion—thanks in part to those price hikes.
It also held on to more than half its market share, if briefly, in the face of an authorized generic that debuted on May 1, more than two months ahead of the other copies. Crestor remained one of the company’s top sellers into July, despite that authorized generic. Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat charted brand and generic Crestor script numbers after that authorized launch, and the trend lines showed the generic quickly gaining market share, but those changes leveled off, with Crestor’s brand scripts at just over 200,000 and the generic’s at just over 150,000.
To cope with the decline, AstraZeneca announced a $1.5 billion restructuring plan last April, targeting sales and administrative functions for cuts and continuing its manufacturing revamp. The aim was to preserve ongoing spending on its pipeline meds and deliver $1.1 billion in annual savings by 2018.