Image courtesy of clinicaloncology.com

The drug: Rituxan
Company: Roche
Estimated worldwide sales 2012: $6.94 billion

Roche ($RHHBY) is sitting pretty when it comes to its cancer treatment, Rituxan. Sure, the megablockbuster moves off patent at the end of next year--but would-be rivals don't have any biosimilars ready to fly off the shelves when that exclusivity terminates. In fact, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) just stopped a trial of its Rituxan version. Roche still doesn't expect to see any direct competition until 2015.

And that's good for Roche, because after 14 years on the market, Rituxan continues to deliver megablockbuster sales. Its 2011 revenues grew by 7% year over year, excluding currency fluctuations. It accounted for 15% of Roche's overall sales for the year. And Rituxan even topped FiercePharma's list of best-selling cancer drugs, beating out both Avastin and Herceptin.

Still, the absence of immediate competition from biosimilars doesn't mean that copycats won't surface. Another company entered the fray just last week, as Boehringer Ingelheim said it was trying to design a clinical trial that would satisfy both U.S. and European regulators at the same time.

For more:
Race for copy of Rituxan gets yet another entrant
Teva calls halt to late-stage test of Rituxan biosimilar
Report: Biosimilars team at Teva/Lonza slams the brakes on Rituxan knockoff
Roche expects to keep Rituxan monopoly until 2015


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