Merck & Co (Kenilworth, NJ, US) and Otsuka Holdings’ (Chiyoda, Japan) Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is projected to top the list of top drugs by annual revenue in 2023, according to a consensus of financial analyst sales forecasts from GlobalData. 

The monoclonal antibody is forecast to bring annual revenue of $22.2bn by 2025, figures from the GlobalData Pharma Intelligence Center Drug Sales and Consensus Forecast database show. 

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) (New York, NY, US) and Pfizer’s (New York, NY, US) Eliquis (apixaban) is forecast to be the second best-selling drug, with annual sales projected to reach $18.7bn by 2025.

Revlimid (lenalidomide), currently marketed by Celgene (Summit, NJ, US), which is set to be acquired by BMS and BeiGene (Beijing, China); BMS and Ono Pharmaceutical’s (Osaka, Japan) Opdivo (nivolumab); and AbbVie (Chicago, IL, US) and Johnson & Johnson’s (New Brunswick, NJ, US) Imbruvica (ibrutinib) come in third, fourth, and fifth places, with each forecast to bring revenues of approximately $12bn by 2025, Figure 1 shows. Interestingly, biologics are projected to decrease to half of the forecast top 10 best-selling drugs in 2025.

According to GlobalData’s Drug Sales and Consensus Forecast database, Merck & Co and Otsuka Holdings’ immuno-oncology therapy Keytruda is expected to overtake AbbVie and Eisai Co’s (Bunkyo, Japan) anti-inflammatory drug Humira (adalimumab), the world’s current top-selling drug. 

Keytruda is forecast to take the number one spot in 2023 and grow to a forecast $22.2bn by 2025. Emerging as one of the most promising treatments on the market for a range of cancers, Keytruda has developed into Merck & Co’s biggest product since its FDA approval in 2015. It has received market approvals for over 20 oncology indications in the US, and is continuing to expand into new indications and markets globally (Immuno-oncology Development Trends and Opportunities, GDHCHT015, GlobalData, November 2018). Humira is forecast to fall to sixth place by 2025. Humira’s decline is expected due to anticipated biosimilar competition in the EU and US (Samsung Bioepis Sees Hadlima (adalimumab-bwwd) Gain FDA Approval, GDHC2592EI, GlobalData, July 2019).

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BMS and Pfizer’s oral anticoagulant Eliquis is in second place out of the top 10 best-selling drugs in 2025. Eliquis’ strong 2018 sales are expected to continue over the forecast period, with worldwide sales reaching $18.7bn by 2025. Revlimid is expected to occupy third place, although its worldwide sales will be affected by generic versions, which are set to hit the US market in 2022 (B-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL): Opportunity Analysis and Forecasts to 2027, GDHC097POA, GlobalData, June 2019). The checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy Opdivo, indicated for cancer, is in fourth place and will continue to have strong sales. AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica is in fifth place with sales expected to reach $11.9bn by 2025. Imbruvica has received FDA approval for multiple oncology indications and chronic graft-versus-host-disease. 

Gilead’s (Foster City, CA, US) Biktarvy (bictegravir sodium + emtricitabine + tenofovir alafenamide), which was approved by the FDA in 2018 for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is forecast to climb to seventh place by 2025, with expected sales of $10bn. Ibrance (palbociclib), ranked eighth, is a breast cancer therapeutic that has emerged as a key growth driver for Pfizer, which is testing the drug on several other cancers. Johnson & Johnson and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma’s (Osaka, Japan) Stelara (ustekinumab) and Eli Lilly (Indianapolis, IN, US) and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma’s (Tokyo, Japan) Trulicity (dulaglutide) are ranked ninth and tenth. Stelara, an auto-immune biologic, has become a major earner for Johnson & Johnsonand the diabetes drug Trulicity is expected to enjoy strong sales momentum over the forecast period. This 2025 forecast can be viewed in further detail on the GlobalData Drug Sales and Consensus Forecast database.

Forecast drug volumes will benefit Catalent, Lonza

Contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) will benefit from demand for these forecast top sellers, especially Catalent (Somerset, NJ, US) and Lonza (Basel, Switzerland), which both manufacture Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for two of the projected top-five drugs of 2025, as shown in Table 1, extracted from the GlobalData Pharma Intelligence Center Drugs by Manufacturer database. It is interesting to note that all of the predicted top-five sellers will involve contract manufacturing.