FirstWord Lists – Top 50 growth driver drugs in 2013 – oncology casts a dominant shadow, as does Johnson & Johnson

Based on full-year results from European and US pharma players, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson's anticoagulant Xarelto was the industry's most notable sales growth driver in 2013; revenues increased by around $1.5 billion versus 2012, prompting Bayer to increase its own peak sales forecast for the drug to just below $5 billion.

It is fitting that Bayer and Johnson & Johnson sit atop the 2013 growth driver league table, with pharmaceutical expansion at both companies driven notably by products launched in the past five years – see FirstWord Lists: Johnson & Johnson tops Big Pharma's 2013 freshness index.

In particular, this trend has served Johnson & Johnson well; the company markets or co-markets five of the 15 biggest growing drugs in 2013, while Bayer's co-marketed macular degeneration therapy Eylea (with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals) also features prominently.

Five of the top 15 growth drivers have reached the market since 2011 and include 2013's Tecfidera (Biogen Idec; multiple sclerosis), which generated sales of $876 million last year. An impressive performance, but one that is likely to be obliterated by Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi when this list is revisited in 12 months time.

Contrasting with the presence of new launches among the industry's biggest growing products are perennial biologic blockbusters such as Humira (AbbVie; various inflammatory conditions) and Lantus (Sanofi; diabetes), which despite both being launched over a decade ago, delivered growth of $1.4 billion and $1 billion, respectively, in 2013.

Oncology products continue to drive growth for the industry at large; the list of 50 drugs includes 17 cancer therapies, which together delivered combined growth of $5.8 billion in sales during 2013. Products for inflammatory conditions – led by the anti-TNF inhibitors – delivered combined growth of $3.8 billion, while growth drivers indicated for diabetes and multiple sclerosis delivered growth of $2.7 billion and $2.5 billion, respectively.

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