15. Trulicity

Lilly's diabetes med Trulicity has posted big gains in recent years, passing $5 billion in 2020. (Eli Lilly)

Company: Eli Lilly 
2020 sales: $5.07 billion 
Disease: Type 2 diabetes 

The first medicine in a group of drug launches that Lilly is counting on for growth in the years to come, diabetes med Trulicity has posted big gains in recent years. But a mid-year stumble for the key med turned heads in the investment community. 

Approved in 2014, Trulicity leads the group of new meds commanding most of the focus at Eli Lilly. In all last year, the company’s new medicines—classified as drugs approved in 2014 and after—generated about half of the company’s sales.  

While Trulicity posted an overall sales increase of 24% last year, the med missed analyst expectations in the third quarter. The reason? More patients were on government healthcare due to the pandemic-related economic downturn, and Lilly had to shell out bigger discounts in Medicare’s coverage gap. 

Those combined factors led the drug to post a quarter-over-quarter decline to $1.11 billion in the third quarter, down from $1.23 billion during the prior three months. The med bounced back and delivered $1.5 billion during the final months of the year, though. Overall, Trulicity passed the $5 billion threshold for the first time in 2020. 

RELATED: Lilly's Trulicity slips as COVID-19 insurance changes trigger price declines 

Meanwhile, in February 2020, the drug scored a coveted FDA approval to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in Type 2 diabetes patients regardless of whether they have established cardiovascular disease. 

The CV nod will give the drug a boost as it competes with Novo Nordisk’s in-class offerings. Novo Nordisk's injectable GLP-1 Ozempic had scored a CV approval a month earlier in patients with established disease, and the rival drugmaker has also launched an oral option. 

RELATED: Eli Lilly's Trulicity nabs novel CV approval in patients with or without established disease 

Despite the mid-year speed bump for the drug, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen sees good days ahead for Eli Lilly. The company’s “earnings profile continues to look favorable when compared with those of its peers,” she wrote in October. The drugmaker is “entering a period of earnings growth” and will be “unencumbered” by losses of exclusivity in the years to come, she noted.  

15. Trulicity