Generic name: ibrutinib
Companies: AbbVie (Pharmacyclics); Johnson & Johnson
2015 sales: $1.23 billion
2022 sales: $8.29 billion
Current indications: chronic lymphocytic leukemia; mantle cell lymphoma; Waldenström macroglobulinemia
Since its first launch in 2013, first-in-class BTK inhibitor Imbruvica has grown quickly to cross the blockbuster sales threshold, showing that targeting rarer cancers is no impediment. The drug now leads the market in the second-line chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) market, backed up by use in previously treated mantle cell lymphoma and Waldenström macroglobulinemia.
In March, Imbruvica got the green light from the FDA as a first-line CLL therapy, opening up a much larger eligible patient population who will stay on therapy longer. Moving earlier in the treatment sequence is a key strategy for AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson, with AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez indicating the shift will drive a third of Imbruvica's growth in future. Add in potential new indications in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, solid tumors like pancreatic cancer and acute leukemias and—barring accidents—its 2022 prediction seems very achievable.
Imbruvica is facing some stiff competition in the coming years, however. Celgene's ambitions for Revlimid in lymphoma put it in opposition to AbbVie and J&J's drug. Meanwhile, Imbruvica is also heading for an encroachment on Celgene's patch with a trials program in multiple myeloma, so it looks like a fierce marketing battle is in the cards.