Company: Bristol Myers Squibb (acquired in November 2019 Celgene buyout)
Used for: Multiple myeloma, transfusion-dependent anemia, mantle cell lymphoma, follicular or marginal zone lymphoma
2019 sales: $10.82 billion
Despite more than a decade on the market, Bristol Myers Squibb’s Revlimid—formerly a Celgene bestseller—has kept growing in recent years. Patent challenges and growing competition haven't dragged it down. And thanks to a big new approval in 2019, the drug's good times are expected to continue.
Revlimid could add $1.17 billion to its 2019 global sales haul of $10.82 billion, according to EvaluatePharma—bringing the oncology med’s 2020 total to $11.99 billion.
That's a very good thing for Bristol, and the company pulled off a megamerger to win it. As the second-bestselling drug in the world behind AbbVie’s immunology megablockbuster Humira, Revlimid was clearly the biggest trophy of Bristol's $74 billion Celgene acquisition, which closed in November.
Revlimid, originally approved by the FDA back in 2005 to treat transfusion-dependent anemia, has stayed relevant in recent years with a productive series of new approvals, including a slew of combo indications that should keep driving sales this year.
In May, Revlimid won an FDA approval as a combo treatment with Roche's blockbuster stalwart Rituxan as a chemo-free regimen, codenamed "R2," for previously treated follicular or marginal zone lymphomas.
SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges was so impressed with the combo's progression-free survival numbers in the phase 3 study that helped secure the approval that he projected the new indication could add $600 million in yearly revenue for both drugmakers. Revlimid also benefited from its recent adoption of use in tandem with Takeda’s Velcade and dexamethasone in previously untreated multiple myeloma patients.
Prior to the Roche combo approval, Revlimid's last big approval was in early 2017, when the FDA gave it the nod as a maintenance treatment for multiple myeloma after a stem cell transplant.
Besides label expansions, two factors should help swing Revlimid's sales even higher in the current year. For one, Celgene can now rely on Bristol's massive marketing team, which has some experience in marketing blood cancer meds of its own. Second, a key patent settlement in March 2018 could keep the drug protected for the next couple years.