A Look at the Products that have made the Pharmaceutical industry a House-Hold Name.

There are blockbusters. And then, there are some drugs that are literally in a class of their own. The upper echelons of drug innovation that have allured investors and churned the growth engines of discovery. 

Recently Evaluate published an article looking at the top 10 best selling drugs of all time, from their launch date until 2018. The ‘rarified air’ of pharmaceuticals, some are still in their prime and driving strong revenues for their creators, while others are not. But all of these drugs have shaped the lives of millions of people.

Six of the drugs on the biggest-lifetime-sales list are biologics, with the exception of Lipitor, Advair, Zantac, and Plavix, and all were developed between 1997 and 2003 (excepting Zantac, which came about in the 1980s). 

The best selling drug of all time is cholesterol-fighting Lipitor. The product has generated an astounding $164.43 billion in lifetime sales. The drug was approved in the United States in 1996, and at one-point accounted for a quarter of its manufacturers worldwide sales. Lipitor’s patent expired in late 2011.

Humira and Rituxan are listed as the second and third highest generating drugs, coming in at $136.55 billion and $111.5 billion respectively. Both drugs are biologics. 

Humira is the current best-selling prescription drug in the world, and contending for greatest-of-all-time. The product is estimated to generate over $33 billion in sales this year. Looking forward to 2024, Evaluate anticipates that Humira will eclipse Lipitor’s worldwide sales, growing by nearly 50% to a staggering $240.5 billion. 

Fourth on the list is Enbrel, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Developed by Amgen in 1998, the product recently secured a U.S. patent for a further eight years. Its current lifetime sales are $108.16 billion, but it is projected to jump to $139.83 billion by 2024. Because of the patent extension, sales could be even more sizeable and eclipse this prediction. 

Epogen (No.5), used to treat anemia, Remicade (No.7) used in managing autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease, and Herceptin (No.10), a breast cancer treatment, are biologics, and rank at $107.9 billion, $98 billion, and $87.97 billion in lifetime sales respectively.

Advair (No.6), Zantac (No.8), and Plavix (No.9) are all small molecule drugs with worldwide sales of $104.2 billion, $97.42 billion, and $90.63 billion, respectively. 

The top-10 selling prescription drugs of all time have generated a combined lifetime-revenue of over a trillion dollars ($1,106 Bn) since launch. These drugs have generated $5Bn or more in annual sales regularly for years, if not longer than a decade.

While some may have disappeared from sight and mind, some are financial behemoths in their prime. But all have been game-changers, for both patients and their respective companies. These are the products that have made the drug industry a house-hold name.