19. Victoza

Novo Nordisk's Victoza is hoping to hold its lead in the GLP-1 diabetes class over Eli Lilly's Trulicity and AstraZeneca's Bydureon. (Novo Nordisk)

19. Victoza
Novo Nordisk
2018 U.S. sales: $2.7 billion
Used for: Type 2 diabetes

Riding an FDA nod for use in a new cardiovascular indication in mid-2017, Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 drug Victoza continued its run last year as the bestselling drug in its class.

Victoza cleared 17.56 billion Danish crowns in 2018, or $2.697 billion by Dec. 31 exchange rates, narrowly beating its 2017 total of 16.93 billion crowns—or about 3.7% growth. Driven by increasing uptake in the GLP-1 class, Victoza is far and away Novo Nordisk's bestseller and the single largest shark in the GLP-1 market over Eli LIlly's Trulicity and AstraZeneca's Bydureon. 

But Trulicity is coming on strong, and Victoza held just a slight lead in U.S. sales over the Lilly drug—which totted up $2.6 billion.

Novo is hoping it can stave off generic competition to Victoza long enough to build up sales for its next-gen GLP-1, semaglutide. In March 2018, Novo inked a deal with Teva to put off its Victoza generic's launch until 2023.

The drugmaker launched its first semaglutide formulation, the weekly injectable Ozempic, last year, and built up $273 million in sales by year's end. But the oral version of semaglutide, now under review at the FDA, could really help it pick up even more market share. 

In June 2018, Lilly presented data from a head-to-head retrospective claims study between its drug and Victoza showing Trulicity patients stayed on treatment longer and were better at taking it as directed than were patients on Victoza or AstraZeneca's Bydureon. Plus, Trulicity patients gained better control over their blood sugar compared with those on Victoza or Bydureon at both the six-month and one-year marks, investigators said.

But Novo's own oral semaglutide also posted better results than Victoza in clinical trials, and it racked up some more positive data at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting in early June.

19. Victoza