2017 cancer sales: $7.88 billion
2024 cancer sales: $9.72 billion
Rank change: -4
There’s just one drugmaker on this list falling in the rankings come 2024—and that’s Novartis. The Swiss drugmaker will watch as four of its peers pass it by in the cancer sales department over the next six years, Evaluate predicts.
It didn’t always look that way. Back in April 2014, when the Basel-based pharma agreed to fork over $16 billion for GlaxoSmithKline’s cancer portfolio as part of a multibillion-dollar asset swap, it took a seat among the industry’s major cancer players. GSK melanoma drugs Tafinlar and Mekinist, among other drugs, joined Novartis’ own cancer-fighters Gleevec, Tasigna, Afinitor, Jakavi and more.
Novartis planned to “optimize” the Tafinlar and Mekinist launches, "positioning Novartis as the leader in treating melanoma," it said in a statement at the time.
That, of course, was before Merck’s Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo came along. Both immuno-oncology drugs, now blockbusters, got their start in melanoma before moving into a slew of other indications, and their makers have worked hard to move them earlier into treatment and test them as part of combo regimens.
Since then, Gleevec copies have launched, too, taking a big chunk out of the company’s oncology sales.
That’s not to say Novartis’ cancer sales won’t be growing between now and 2024. They will, thanks in part to the company’s CAR-T therapy Kymriah, which is expected to eventually make a splash, despite early manufacturing woes. Zykadia should be making bigger top-line contributions down the line too, thanks to last year’s front-line ALK+ lung cancer approval.
Novartis is also hoping to get Kisqali going; the HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer drug, which competes with Pfizer’s Ibrance and Eli Lilly’s Verzenio, is off to a slower-than-expected start.