17. Herceptin

Herceptin
Riding approval as a combination therapy with Perjeta for early-stage cancer patients, Herceptin saw more uptake in the U.S. in 2018. (Roche)

17. Herceptin
Company:
Roche
2018 U.S. sales: $2.9 billion
Used for: breast cancer, gastric cancer

Roche's longtime HER2-positive breast cancer blockbuster Herceptin, not content with its place as the bestselling drug in its class, again posted impressive growth in 2018. 

Herceptin raked in $2.874 billion in U.S. sales, an 8.7% increase from the previous year and just slightly more than its companion cancer drug from Roche, Avastin. Riding approval as a combination therapy with Perjeta for early-stage cancer patients, Herceptin saw more uptake in the U.S. in 2018, even though it saw no growth in the fourth quarter.

Roche said the drug's sales also enjoyed a boost from Herceptin's longer duration for treatment. 

Like Avastin and Roche’s third major cancer drug, Rituxan, Herceptin will likely face biosimilar competitors this year, despite patent litigation that aims to shield the drug. In December, the FDA approved Herzuma, Celltrion and Teva’s Herceptin biosimilar; Samsung and Mylan each boast U.S. biosimilar nods as well.

That trio of Herceptin biosimilars represents a sign of trouble for Roche’s top-selling cancer drugs, which raked in a combined $20 billion in worldwide sales in 2018. The Swiss drugmaker says it's expecting Herceptin copycats to debut in the second half of this year.

Despite the challenges it will face in staving off U.S. competitors, former Roche pharma chief Daniel O’Day said in October he believed Roche's oncology portfolio could outgrow challengers with new launches and a constantly expanding oncology market. 

“Even in a worst-case scenario, we’ll be able to grow through that,” he said. 

17. Herceptin

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