Company: Roche ($RHHBY)
2013 Global Sales: $6.56 billion
Indications: Breast, esophagus and stomach cancer
Roche has had a good, long run for Herceptin, a drug that remains its third-best seller after about 15 years on the market, coming in behind two other drugs on this list, Rituxan and Avastin. Its first targeted cancer drug, aimed at patients whose tumors have specific genetic characteristics, has paved the way for what has become a huge part of the cancer treatment market. In this case, the appropriate patients have tumors that overexpress the HER2 gene.
But its days as an unchallenged leader are waning. Mylan ($MYL) and Indian partner Biocon have launched their own versions in India, and South Korea's Celltrion has a biosimilar of the drug approved in its home country. U.S. drugmaker Hospira ($HSP), which has an aggressive biosimilar program under way, is laying the groundwork for attacking the U.K. market, convincing a court to set aside two Roche patents on the drug. Unless Roche wins an appeal, that could open that large market to biosimilar competition when its main patent expires there July 28. -- Eric Palmer (email | Twitter)
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