4. Johnson & Johnson
2017 cancer sales: $6.15 billion
2024 cancer sales: $14.31 billion
Rank change: +1
Johnson & Johnson may not have as wide an oncology portfolio as some of its rivals do, but the products it does have are rock-solid. In 2017, four of its cancer fighters checked in with sales above the blockbuster threshold, and analysts say a new approval from this year is destined for blockbuster land, too.
That would be Erleada, the follow-up to J&J’s leading cancer product, Zytiga. The elder drug pulled in $2.51 billion in prostate-cancer sales last year despite fierce competition from Xtandi from Astellas and Pfizer. Erleada, for its part, nabbed a February approval in nonmetastatic prostate cancer, months ahead of schedule, getting a head start on Zytiga’s archnemesis. Leerink Partners analysts, for their part, expect Erleada to go on to rack up $1.3 billion in peak sales.
J&J is also a force on the multiple myeloma side, where its Takeda-partnered Velcade long reigned supreme. The standby is still churning out big numbers—it amassed $1.11 billion in 2017 sales outside the U.S., where J&J markets the drug—but it too has a follow-up ready to lead a new generation of myeloma therapies. That’s Darzalex, which by last year had already generated more for the year than its predecessor at $1.24 billion.
Darzalex’s numbers are only set to keep growing, thanks to a landmark FDA green light in May. The agency gave the drug a go-ahead—in combination with Velcade and prednisone—in previously untreated patients who are transplant-ineligible, making Darzalex the first-ever monoclonal antibody to score an OK in newly diagnosed patients.
And then there’s powerhouse Imbruvica, which J&J has shared with AbbVie since the latter’s buyout of Pharmacyclics. That drug pulled in $1.89 billion last year, and a recent combo approval for patients with Waldenström macroglobulinemia should keep sales on the up and up. AstraZeneca, though, is mounting a challenge with Calquence, a drug that’s expected to eventually take on Imbruvica in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.