Special Report

The World's 15 Top Selling Drugs

5. Enbrel
> 2014 sales:
$8.7 billion
> Treatment for: Arthritis, psoriasis
> Drug manufacturer: Amgen Inc. (NYSE: AZN)
> Company’s headquarter: United States

Rheumatoid arthritis, a condition causing inflammation of the joints, and plaque psoriasis,a severe skin condition, are fairly common. Together, the two conditions affect approximately 2.8 million adults nationwide. Enbrel, a drug that treats both conditions, is one of the best selling drugs in the world. Amgen, the company behind the medication, is currently suing drug manufacturer Novartis, claiming the rival company manufactured a copycat drug, unfairly piggybacking on the decades of development that went into Enbrel. The drug is also licensed to Pfizer, which markets the drug outside the United States.

4. Abilify
> 2014 sales:
$9.3 billion
> Treatment for: Serious mental illness
> Drug manufacturer: Otsuka Group
> Company’s headquarter: Japan

Abilify is an antipsychotic that treats patients with severe depression as well as other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Japanese company Otsuka Pharmaceutical developed the drug. Otsuka America markets it in the United States. With roughly $9.3 billion in sales, Abilify is one of the world’s best selling prescription drugs. Otsuka’s patent on Abilify will expire in 2017, and generic versions of the antipsychotic medication will likely cut into Abilify sales.

3. Sovaldi
> 2014 sales:
$9.4 billion
> Treatment for: Hepatitis C
> Drug manufacturer: Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD)
> Company’s headquarter: United States

With a price tag of $81,000 for a 12-week treatment course, Sovaldi is the most expensive drug in the United States. Gilead Sciences sold $9.4 billion worth of the hepatitis C treatment in 2014 alone. However, the drug may not be the top selling hepatitis C medication for long. Introduced in January 2016, pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck’s competing drug Zepatier was found to be safer and more effective than Sovaldi, according to one study. At the very least, the drug is more affordable.

2. Lantus
> 2014 sales:
$10.3 billion
> Treatment for: Diabetes
> Drug manufacturer: Sanofi (NYSE: SNY)
> Company’s headquarter: France

French drug manufacturer Sanofi sold $10.3 billion worth of Lantus in 2014, making the diabetes medication the second best-selling prescription drug in the world. Lantus has enjoyed market dominance for some time, but may face competition in discounted generics in the near future. At the end of 2016, U.S. drug maker Eli Lilly & Co. will release its injectable pen version of Lantus under its own brand.

1. Humira
> 2014 sales:
$11.8 billion
> Treatment for: Arthritis, psoriasis, bowel diseases
> Drug manufacturer: AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV)
> Company’s headquarter: United States

Arthritis is a general term for a number of joint diseases and conditions that afflict more than 53 million people in the United States alone. The global economic costs of arthritis are estimated at $156 billion in lost wages and medical expenses annually, some of which are due to the costs of arthritis medications. Global sales of Humira, a drug that treats certain forms of arthritis, totalled $11.8 billion in 2014, more than any other prescription drug. Recently, rival drugmaker Amgen’s sought permission to market a cheaper, generic version of Humira. The request was struck down by the U.S. patent office. With the ruling, AbbVie’s claims that Humira sales will hit $18 billion by 2020 may be far more likely.

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