Cost: $137,953 per U.S. patient per year
Nowadays, Erbitux isn't just a cancer drug, which are often pricey in general. It's a targeted cancer drug. Back in 2009, the FDA allowed Merck ($MRK) to narrow Erbitux's indication for advanced colon cancer, changing the label to recommend the drug for treatment of EGFR-expressing tumors only in patients without a mutation in the KRAS gene.
The move may have narrowed Erbitux's patient pool, but the German pharma has said it thinks better efficacy data in a smaller group can help marketing teams stress the med's benefits. Analysts, though, don't appear sold; they expect the med's peak sales to hit $1.25 billion for Merck this year before slipping to $1.1 billion by 2018.
That's not such great news for Merck, for which Erbitux is a No. 2 seller. Its prescription drug business, Serono, is already struggling after not delivering a major new drug since 2013. Right now, though, the drug is on the rise, with sales expanding 5.9% in 2013.
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-- Carly Helfand (email | Twitter)