FirstWord Lists – Pharma's 50 biggest selling drugs: AbbVie's Humira joins the $10 billion club

Based on full-year results from US and European-based players (and following on from last week's list of the 50 leading sales growth drivers in 2013), this week's FirstWord list compiles the 50 biggest selling products in pharma today.

Together, these 50 brands generated global sales of $187 billion in 2013, with the top 10 selling drugs (each of which generated revenue in excess of $5 billion) accounting for approximately 41 percent of this figure.

Sitting at the very top of the pile is AbbVie's anti-TNF product Humira, sales of which breached the $10 billion benchmark for the first time in 2013. Indeed, anti-TNF products (Remicade and Enbrel also) comprised three of the four biggest selling drugs in 2013, with combined sales of around $28 billion.

Seven of the 10 biggest selling drugs in 2013 were biologics; with the anti-TNFs joined by Roche's three oncology mega-brands Rituxan, Avastin and Herceptin, and Sanofi's long-acting basal insulin Lantus.

GlaxoSmithKline's asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) therapy Seretide/Advair was the biggest selling small-molecule drug in 2013, with revenues of $8.2 billion. Similarly to Crestor and Abilify – the other small-molecule products positioned in the top 10 – exposure to generic competition over the next few years is a key theme for the companies that are marketing these drugs.

Similarly, the sheer scale of revenues generated by the market-leading biologics is testament to the commercial opportunity that biosimilar developers have identified. The key question remains as to whether biosimilars alone can significantly impact the revenue-generating capabilities of these largest selling products or if their position at the top of the table will only fall once more innovative products have become established on the market – see ViewPoints: Fool's gold - will only the few strike rich in biosimilars?

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