King Keytruda: Merck's PD-1 star scores #1 position and $22B+ prediction in another top 10 blockbuster list for 2025
Predicting which of the current blockbusters will ascend to new heights is anyone’s game, and one that highlights the current dynamics of the industry. On Friday it’s GlobalData’s turn to pick out the therapies that it believes will come out on top in some intensely competitive spaces.
Humira may still top the chart for best-selling drugs in the world, but Keytruda is set to overtake the shrinking franchise in around five years time — with four other drugs set to get ahead of AbbVie’s biggest cash cow.
The $22.2 billion estimate for Keytruda is among the highest number put forward by analysts. Evaluate pegged worldwide sales in 2024 at $17 billion, while Mizuho’s Mara Goldstein’s forecast was that it would surpass $20 billion by then.
Merck’s R&D engine — which has pumped out a series of clinical wins enabling new filings — is crucial to its growth, according to GlobalData pharma analyst Keshalini Sabaratnam. Just days ago the pharma giant celebrated another milestone in the form of an OK in China for frontline non-small cell lung cancer.
“It has received market approvals for over 20 oncology indications in the US, and is continuing to expand into new indications and markets globally,” she said in a statement.
What Bristol-Myers Squibb lagged in Opdivo 2025 sales, though, it is likely making up in numbers. The #2, #3 and #4 drugs on the list will be its by then, including the blood thinner Eliquis ($18.7 billion), Celgene’s multiple myeloma drug Revlimid ($12.4 billion), and the PD-1 checkpoint ($12 billion).
J&J’s Imbruvica comes next at $11.9 billion, with analysts encouraged by the BTK inhibitor’s use in multiple cancers as well as chronic graft-versus-host-disease.
Biktarvy’s #6 position just after Humira continues to underscore Gilead’s dominance in the HIV market, with $10 billion penciled in.
Analysts also appear unfazed by the threats posed by rival CDK4/6 drugs from Novartis and Eli Lilly against Pfizer’s Ibrance, just trailing Biktarvy. While the drug only garnered $2.8 billion in 2018, the predicted 2024 sales is as high as $9 billion.
Rounding out the list are J&J’s Stelara and Eli Lilly’s Trulicity, the only representatives in the crowded psoriasis and diabetes field, which are filled with other blockbuster contenders.