Every time news hits about another biosimilar to Humira, analysts are reminded that AbbVie $ABBV is living on borrowed time. Ever since the big split with Abbott, the company has been wheeling and dealing its way into Phase III in a huge gamble that it can hold off copycats long enough to field a slate of drugs capable of replacing a therapy that now delivers $16 billion a year.
The new list from EvaluatePharma on the top 20 late-stage drugs in the pipeline — included in its big annual report on the industry — underscores just how hard that is, and also how much progress AbbVie is making.
AbbVie has 4 drugs in late-stage development that fall in the top 20, more than any other company on the list. These drugs range from Rova-T (with a 2022 sales estimate of $1.5 billion), followed by elagolix ($1.5 billion), its promising JAK1 inhibitor ABT-494 ($1.2 billion) and glecaprevir/pibrentasvir ($1.2 billion), which has been widely ignored recently as it made its way through late-stage hep C trials just as the market has begun to shrink fast.
Risky? The $5.4 billion of collectively projected annual revenue includes a cancer drug that many believe AbbVie overspent on in buying Stemcentrx. And even if they all succeed, it’s only a portion of what Humira is good for, as long as they can hold on to patent protection.
If Evaluate is right, Gilead $GILD could easily rival AbbVie’s package just with its latest cocktail for HIV, adding bictegravir to the mix with potential annual sales of $4.4 billion — the highest moneymaker on the list and the only one fielded by Gilead, which has been having some trouble in the clinic over the past year.
Novo Nordisk also helps demonstrate why one big drug in a big disease field can be worth more than a host of smaller therapies. Its GLP-1 entry semaglutide comes with $2.2 billion in peak sales forecast.
J&J $JNJ comes in number two in terms of total number of potential blockbusters, with three products on the list: apalutamide ($1.6 billion; remember ARN-509 from Aragon?) followed by guselkumab ($1.5 billion) and sirukumab ($1.1 billion).
Two of the big biotechs, Biogen $BIIB and Celgene $CELG, are represented here by aducanumab — another high-risk, high-reward play aimed at Alzheimer’s pegged at $1.5 billion — and ozanimod, sucked up into Celgene’s pipeline during one of the longest deal sprees in industry history. Ozanimod is assigned 2022 potential sales of $1.8 billion.
Not everyone is likely to agree that Kite’s lead CAR-T $KITE is worth twice the annual sales of Novartis’ leader $NVS in the field, as Evaluate lists these figures. But they’ll likely be given plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their potential following looming PDUFA dates on both.
AstraZeneca $AZN, which badly needs to start generating more revenue, is down to one on the list, now that durvalumab was approved as the 5th PD-(L)1 checkpoint. But the CTLA-4 category has been the cause of some fretting lately, and the drug falls just shy of blockbuster status on the list.
Download the full report here: World Preview 2017, Outlook to 2022