For years, cardio was king. The world's all-time best-selling drug, Pfizer's ($PFE) Lipitor, after all, is an antihyperlipidemic drug. Cardio drugs have traditionally made up one of the largest categories of therapeutic treatment in the drug universe.
According to EvaluatePharma's World Preview 2018 report, combined sales of antihypertensive drugs and antihyperlipidemics were more than $70 billion in 2011. That would put them at the top of the heap. Sales of antihypertensive drugs alone were more than $40 billion that year, making them the second-largest therapy area defined by the report, behind oncology drugs at $64.4 billion. The list, compiled by EvaluatePharma, includes the theraputic areas categorized as cardio, so it does not include some products sometimes used for heart disease but not in that therapeutic area, including blood thinners like Plavix.
But many of the top cardio drugs are long in the tooth, and generics are now eating their lunch. Did I mention Lipitor? Sales cratered last year, falling nearly 60%. Despite that, the drug placed third among the top 10 cardio drugs of 2012, a reminder of the stature it had achieved. Four of the top 10 have lost patent protection in the last two years, and most will be off patent by 2016, with only Merck's ($MRK) Vytorin protected until 2017.
Last year, the top 10 cardio drugs racked up sales of $28.644 billion, down 23% from the $37.271 billion they sold in 2011. Still, the group has made a lot of money for its companies for years and, in some cases, completely changed the treatment of heart disease.
It is an interesting list. Only Merck has two drugs in the top 10. The other drugmakers make up a broad swath of the pharma industry. Read our report below, and if you have some insights you would like to share, please do. -- Eric Palmer (email | Twitter) | Carly Helfand (email | Twitter)