1. Novartis

Novartis will lead biopharma sales in 2024 with $53.2 billion, according to Evalaute. (Novartis)

Headquarters: Basel, Switzerland
2017 prescription sales: $41.9 billion
Projected 2024 sales: $53.2 billion

Novartis might not have many drugs ranked among the top 15 by sales in 2024—as predicted by Evaluate—but a range of offerings will push the Swiss drugmaker past all rivals in the coming years to the industry’s top spot, with a projected $53 billion in annual sales that year. 

After generating $41.9 billion last year, Evaluate predicts in its recent World Preview report that Novartis will grow sales 3% annually to $53.2 billion. That figure will give it enough sales to edge out the next competitor Pfizer by $2 billion.

Unlike some of its rivals, though, the analysts don’t expect Novartis to market any drugs ranking in the top 15 by 2024 sales.  

Instead, it’s a group of smaller meds expected to carry the torch for Novartis. Evaluate expects Novartis’ autoimmune drug Cosentyx to be the company’s top med by 2024 sales—at $5.5 billion—followed by heart failure med Entresto at $4.43 billion. The analysts say the company will have 10 blockbusters in 2024, and another 12 meds with more than $500 million in annual sales. 

Tapped to navigate the company into the future is Vas Narasimhan, who took the reins from former CEO Joe Jimenez in February. In an interview with Forbes, Narasimhan explained how he aims to apply technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing to benefit drug discovery and development. 

In an early challenge in Narasimhan’s tenure, Novartis came under scrutiny this year for a consulting deal with Michael Cohen, the former lawyer for President Donald Trump. Novartis said Jimenez entered the deal to get insight about the administration’s approach to healthcare. But it later came out through a Senate report that Jimenez and Cohen interacted more than the company initially let on. 

Over the years, Novartis has repeatedly encountered bribery scandals in various countries. In August, Novartis hired an ethics chief, Klaus Moosmayer from Siemens, to help in that department. He has unveiled a new compensation program that lowers bonuses and raises fixed pay. What's more, unless a sales representative scores at least a 2 on a scale of 3 for their “values and behaviors,” they will not be eligible for that variable component of their pay.

Meanwhile, Novartis is also an early leader in next-gen cancer treatment with CAR-T, with Kymriah scoring the world’s first-ever approval in the field. Since then, Novartis picked up gene therapy player AveXis in April for $8.9 billion, boosting its stake in the emerging field. With the deal, the company picked up a potential blockbuster in AVXS-101, a phase 3 gene therapy candidate to treat spinal muscular atrophy, and a platform to discover future meds.  

In September, Novartis’ Kymriah won European approval and NICE support in the U.K. for use on the NHS. 

1. Novartis