Topping the charts

We list the world’s ten biggest selling medicines in 2019

Humira (Adalimumab) remained the world’s biggest selling medicine, in monetary terms, in 2019.

The treatment for carious forms of arthritis, Crohn’s Disease and other treatments had global sales of US$19.74 billion (Aus$26.088 bn) in 2019, according to figures collated and published by US pharmaceutical industry publication Fierce Pharma.

Just behind the Abbvie manufactured blockbuster were a range of oncology treatments. Merck’s Keytruda is currently in second place, and is tipped to take the top spot in the next few years.

According to the report, Keytruda is expected to reach sales of US$25 billion (Aus$37,28 bn) by 2026. 

The top ten best-selling medicines globally for 2019 were:

  1. Humira
  2. Keytuda
  3. Revlimid
  4. Opdivo
  5. Eylea
  6. Eliquis
  7. Enbrel
  8. Avastin
  9. Stelara
  10. Rituxan

Following behind these on the lsit are medicines such as Xarelto (11th), Herceptin (12th) and Prevnar (13th).

Six of the top 20 drugs faced generic or biosim challengers for the first time in 2019 or previously saw copycats hit the market. 

Roche saw its three bestselling oncology medicines—Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan—all facing US competitors in 2019. 

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  1. Greg Kyle

    So here we have more “lies, damn lies & statistics”. The ultimate question is what does “biggest selling” actually mean?

    Evidently whoever compiled these data (Pharma … or Pharmacy influenced) decided it was “highest sales”, but “biggest selling” (to me, at least) implies largest volume which can be a proxy for market size, product penetration into said market and preference (whether due to marketing or efficacy) over competitor products. Another metric would be profitability, but Pharma would NEVER release those data!!
    If I sell 1,000 units of a product at $50 and profit of $5 and 2,000 units of a product at $20 with $10 profit ,the 1,000 units produces sales of $50,000 and profit of $5,000, while the 2,000 units has sales of $40,000 and profit of $20,000. Which is the “biggest selling”? More importantly, which “biggest seller” would you prefer to sell?
    The products listed in the article are high cost, but usually lower volume. We can continue the ongoing debate about whether those costs are justified, but that’s not the point here…

    At least when the PBS “top 10” and “top 25” are released, the lists are produced by dollars (spent) and a separate list by volume.

    • Patrick Smith

      The first line of the article says “biggest selling medicine, in monetary terms”. You’re right that there’s different metrics in terms of volume, share, profit etc, but this is the stated list.

      Also, all major pharmaceutical companies are listed on a stock exchange somewhere, and release annual reports (referred to as a ‘Form 10-K’ for US listed companies) that details all of their finances, including Revenue and COGS, which will give you an indication of profitability. Arguably, companies with investors (like pharmaceutical companies) are more transparent than private companies (like pharmacies) so I find your comment somewhat uninformed.

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