Company: Johnson & Johnson
2020 sales: $4.195 billion
Diseases: Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and plaque psoriasis
Once Johnson & Johnson’s top drug by sales, immunology blockbuster Remicade has weathered years of biosimilar erosion. It still maintains its hold on a sizable share of the market and captured the final spot in the rankings of the top 20 drugs by 2020 revenue.
For J&J, Remicade’s sales peaked in 2016, when Remicade pulled in nearly $7 billion. Pfizer launched the first U.S. biosimilar in October of that year—but only at a modest 15% discount to the brand.
What followed would command industry attention for years and serve as a bellwether for the field of biosimilars—copycat biologics that are tougher to produce and market than typical generics.
After Pfizer’s biosim launch, J&J defended its market share through aggressive contracting and price cuts. Pfizer eventually sued its Big Pharma rival alleging J&J’s conduct was anticompetitive, and J&J countered that Pfizer offered enough value to win business.
Last year, J&J reported $3.75 billion in Remicade sales. Evaluate Pharma reports that global sales between J&J and its partners came in at $4.2 billion.
Inflectra, the biosimilar rival, generated $659 million in 2020, Pfizer reported.
That Remicade even shows up on the top 20 rankings in 2020 underscores the challenges biosimilars face on the market—and the success of J&J in protecting its key drug. Before biosims launched, J&J execs voiced confidence in Remicade’s prospects against biosimilars.
After Pfizer’s biosimilar launch, copycats from Amgen and Merck have also debuted on the market.
Remicade won its initial FDA approval in 1998.