5. Humalog

Demand for Eli Lilly’s Humalog grew in the U.S. last year, but sales shrank, driven by lower realized prices.

Company: Eli Lilly
2016 U.S. sales: $1.69 billion
Drug class: Fast-acting insulin

Demand for Eli Lilly’s fast-acting insulin Humalog grew in the U.S. last year, but that didn’t stop sales from shrinking.

Sales for the Indianapolis drugmaker’s top product decreased 5% from the year before, driven by lower realized prices, Lilly said. Translation? Discounts in a drug class that’s been seriously pressured by payers. Rebates and discounts are digging into list prices, yielding less revenue on a net basis.

Things may get more difficult for the Lilly med as biosimilars move in. Sanofi, which knows a thing or two about insulin after fielding star med Lantus, is developing its biosimilar SAR342434. In May, that Humalog copy snagged a positive recommendation from the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). Globally, Humalog brought in $2.77 billion.

The Humalog biosim may find a U.S. audience ready and willing to prescribe it, too, according to results from a recent Barclays survey. 42% of respondents said they expected to write scripts for the medication once it arrives, versus just 10% who thought they’d prescribe Basaglar—a Lilly copy of Lantus—a year from now, analyst Geoff Meacham wrote to clients.

One potential reason? The rapid-acting insulin market is far more concentrated—namely on Humalog and Novo Nordisk’s NovoLog—than the basal insulin market, which features more competition, Meacham wrote. “Respondents may be more open to a potential new rapid-acting option as bargaining power could be limited.” 

5. Humalog

Suggested Articles

Pfizer has scored FDA approval for its Humira biosimilar, but it can't launch the product for several years under a patent settlement.

The 3-2 vote on the deal was split along the party lines, spelling trouble for future biopharma M&A deals should Democrats move into the White House.

Recipharm has been building its capabilities in sterile injectable and inhalation drugs. Now it is buying a CDMO that manufactures devices for both.