Gleevec

Company: Novartis ($NVS)
2013 Global Sales: $4.69 billion
Indications: Leukemia, GI cancer

Gleevec, a wonder drug that has transformed some blood cancers into chronic illnesses rather than death sentences, has grabbed a variety of new uses since it came out in 2001 as a treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia. Most recently, it scored U.S. and EU approval last year as a treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia in pediatric patients.

But while the drug may be revolutionary, in 2013, its IP woes made more headlines than its label expansions. After Novartis fought for years to gain Indian patent protection for the drug, India's Supreme Court finally nixed that idea. To the Swiss pharma's dismay, Indian drugmaker Sun Pharma brought the struggle over to the U.S. last June, demanding the right to launch a copycat version (a suit Novartis has since settled, keeping Sun's generic off the market until February 2016).

In the meantime, the Basel-based drugmaker is trying its best to switch patients over to follow-up drug Tasigna, touting its superior efficacy. That's going well so far, with the successor hauling in $1.3 billion in U.S. sales in 2013--a 31% increase over 2012. And analysts predict Tasigna will capture $2.58 billion by 2018. -- Carly Helfand (email | Twitter)

For more:
Special Report: Top 20 orphan drugs by 2018 - Tasigna
Novartis settles Sun Pharma suit, winning 7-month reprieve from generic Gleevec
Novartis, Sun Pharma Gleevec patent battle moves to U.S.
Novartis sweats Glivec patent verdict in India

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