FirstWord Lists – Pharma's fastest growing drugs

With Q3 earnings season now in the rear-view mirror, FirstWord initiates its quarterly analysis of the industry's fastest growing pharmaceutical brands.

Based on revenues generated over the past four quarters (Q4-2013 through Q3 2014), the 50 biggest growing drugs over this period delivered an absolute increase in sales worth $31 billion.

A staggering $8 billion – equal to 27 percent of the combined growth generated by these drugs – was contributed by Gilead Sciences' hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi (an even more incredible performance considering the drug has effectively been available for just three of the four quarters that define this reporting period).

Analysis of sales over the past four quarters also captures the explosive launch phase of Biogen Idec's multiple sclerosis treatment Tecfidera, which generated revenue expansion of $1.9 billion. A similar level of growth was recorded by AbbVie's TNF-inhibitor Humira; a performance that provides context for both the company's move to acquire Shire earlier this year and the prospect of biosimilar competition in a few years time.

Bayer and Johnson & Johnson's anticoagulant Xarelto and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Bayer's ophthalmology treatment Eylea complete the industry's five largest growth drivers, which delivered combined revenue expansion of $15 billion over the past four quarters.

Further down the list, Roche's recent additions to its HER2-positive breast cancer portfolio – Perjeta and Kadcyla – continue to perform strongly, while Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer's anticoagulant Eliquis (a competitor to Xarelto) has picked up the pace after a slower than expected launch. Tivicay (HIV) and Tafinlar (melanoma) provide bright spots for GlaxoSmithKline, partially offsetting disappointing launches for Breo Ellipta and Anoro Ellipta in the respiratory space, with Pharmacyclics and Johnson & Johnson's Imbruvica another notable new launch.

Johnson & Johnson retains a noteworthy presence on the list, reflected by annualised revenue growth of $4.3 billion for its pharmaceutical division over the past four quarters (versus the previous four quarters); a performance that significantly outpaces the remainder of the Big Pharma peer set. Bayer, AbbVie and Novo Nordisk are other notable growth players, with Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck & Co. experiencing the largest revenue declines over the same period. Driven by the Sovaldi franchise, Gilead's revenues over the past four quarters have doubled year-on-year to reach in excess of $20 billion.

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