The year 2007 was a period of transition for the pharmaceutical industry. Global sales of prescription biotechnology drugs
increased in the double-digits, well outpacing overall pharmaceutical industry growth and the rate of growth achieved by the
top 10 global and US products. The number of new drug approvals by the US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) represented a recent low. And generic-drug competition looms large.
Patricia Van Arnum
Product positioning for the top spots
The top 10-selling products accounted for $63.9 billion, or 9.6% of the global pharmaceutical market (based on manufacturer
prices for prescription and certain over-the-counter product data), according to IMS (see Table I). Global sales of the top
10 products grew 5.6% in 2007, slightly below the 6.4% growth for the global industry as a whole.
Pfizer's (New York) "Lipitor" (atorvastatin) retained its top billing as the number one selling drug in 2007, with global
sales of $13.5 billion, down 2.8% from 2006, according to IMS Health. Three products—Sanofi-Aventis's (Paris) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's (BMS, New York) "Plavix" (clopidogrel), AstraZeneca's (London) "Nexium" (esomeprazole), and GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK, London) "Seretide/Advair" (fluticasone and salmeterol)—took the second, third, and fourth spots, respectively. Plavix's
global sales jumped 20.5% in 2007 to reach $7.3 billion. Nexium's sales increased 5.3% to $7.2 billion, and Seretide/Advair's
revenues grew 9.6% to $7.1 billion. These drugs were also ranked in the top 10-selling drugs in 2006 (Nexium, second; Seritide/Advair,
third; and Plavix, fourth). Ranking sixth and seventh, respectively, Eli Lilly's (Indianapolis, IN) "Zyprexa" (olanzapine) and Johnson & Johnson's (J&J, New Brunswick, NJ) "Risperdal" (risperidone) held on in 2007 to remain in the top 10.
Table I: Top products by 2007 global sales.
Two biologics—Amgen's (Thousand Oaks, CA) and Wyeth's (Madison, NJ) "Enbrel" (etanercept) and Amgen's "Aranesp" (darbepoetin alfa)—kept their billing among the top 10. Moving
up from ninth in 2006, Enbrel took the fifth spot with 2007 global sales of $5.3 billion. Aranesp dropped from sixth in 2006
to tenth in 2007 on sales of $4.4 billion, down 12.9% from 2007.
Last year saw two newcomers to the global top 10. With a sales gain of 16.2% to $4.6 billion, AstraZeneca's "Seroquel" (quetiapine)
ranked eighth in 2007. Merck & Co.'s (Whitehouse Station, NJ) "Singulair" (montelukast sodium) closely followed with sales of $4.5 billion, up 14.7% from
2006, and enough for the ninth position.
Facing potential generic competition and dropping out of the top 10 in 2007 from 2006 were Pfizer's "Norvasc" (amlodipine) and Wyeth's (Madison, NJ) "Effexor" (venlafaxine).