Pharma, R&D

Nine blockbuster drugs to watch are making their debut, aiming at a $16B prize in 2021

The biopharma industry is front-loading blockbuster drug approvals this year.

Clarivate Analytics listed the 9 blockbusters their analysts expect to see approved by the FDA this year, and only 4 of them have yet to get the green light in early Q2, including Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide, their GLP-1 drug for diabetes, and AstraZeneca’s PD-L1 checkpoint durvalumab.

It’s a new world in the payer community, and the consensus peak sales projections seem to be further off the mark than ever as the commercial kickback grows steadily worse. But it is always interesting to see what analysts believe the big new drugs of the year are going to be worth 5 years down the road.

In this case, as outlined in the Drugs to Watch report, the total is $16 billion in annual revenue.

Top of the mark: Ocrevus, the new MS drug from Roche with an estimated revenue stream of $3.3 billion in 2021. Right behind comes Dupixent, the stellar eczema breakthrough from Regeneron and Sanofi, which is expected to hit $2.8 billion.

Merck KGaA makes the list — probably for the first legitimate blockbuster thumbs up in more than a decade — for their checkpoint avelumab, partnered with Pfizer and now approved to be sold as Bavencio. They have the number 4 checkpoint on the market, with AstraZeneca now poised to get 5th place.

But Clarivate has AstraZeneca beating out the more advanced rival, presumably crediting their shot at a combo approach with the in-house CTLA-4 checkpoint tremelimumab. Increasingly, though, analysts are wondering if PD-L1 and CTLA-4 are such a good match, considering the tox profile.

So remember, these are just estimates. And 2021 is a long, long way away.

As usual, the pharma giants dominate the list, but biotech is clearly playing a big role in the lead-up to commercialization. Tesaro — the new PARP player — makes the list along with Regeneron’s standout antibody team. And this year Incyte gets into the blockbuster lane, with Eli Lilly, on the impressive baricitinib, which is looking at a looming PDUFA date. Kite just barely falls short of blockbuster status on this list with its pioneering and newly filed CAR-T, but something tells me they’ll give this one an extra push to see if they can break the mark earlier.

Lists rarely replicate each other. EvaluatePharma put together their list of top drugs in the pipeline, and came up with 15 prospective blockbusters. Either way you look at it, though, it’s going to be a better year than 2016, when the FDA recorded OKs on only 22 new drugs.

Check out their report, which also looks at the way sales are projected to build over the next 5 years. We’ll be keeping score.

Image: Shutterstock

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