The overall market capitalisation of the top 20 biopharmaceutical companies saw an upswing in Q2 2023. Market capitalisation increased by a total of 2.3% from $3.49tn in Q1 2023 to $3.56tn in Q2 2023, according to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center Companies Database. Despite continued inflationary pressures and increased regulatory stringency, the increase in market capitalisation seen in Q2 2023 provides a promising outlook for the top 20 biopharmaceutical companies throughout the remainder of the year.

Eli Lilly witnessed the largest growth in market capitalisation of 36.1% over Q2 2023, propelling the company to the top of the list, and displacing Johnson & Johnson from its top spot for the first time even though it reported a 6.8% increase in market capitalisation.

Eli Lilly’s strong market capitalisation growth over Q2 was attributed to its diabetes drug Mounjaro (tirzepatide), a synthetic peptide that reported $980m in global drug sales, according to GlobalData’s Pharmaceutical Intelligence Center Drugs Database. Additionally, Eli Lilly is anticipating Mounjaro’s approval for the treatment of obesity based on the release of two positive pivotal Phase III trial results, SURMOUNT-3 and SURMOUNT-4, in Q2. Mounjaro’s potential expansion into obesity is expected to contribute analyst consensus global drug sales of $9.1bn by 2029, according to GlobalData’s Pharmaceutical Intelligence Center Drugs Database.

Furthermore, the favourable outcomes of the Phase III TRAILBLAZER-ALZ 2 trial, which is evaluating donanemab as an anti-amyloid-beta (Aβ) monoclonal antibody therapy for early symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease, played a pivotal role in Eli Lilly’s market capitalisation surge during Q1. The subsequent submission for regulatory approval to the FDA, which is anticipated to be received by year-end, further fueled this advancement. Eisai and Biogen also have an already approved monoclonal antibody therapy, Leqembi (lecanemab), for Alzheimer’s disease.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals reported an 11.9% market capitalisation growth over Q2 2023 following the submission of its CRISPR-based ex vivo cell therapy exagamglogene autotemcel (exa-cel) for FDA approval for the treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD) and transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia (TDT) with its partner, CRISPR Therapeutics. If approved, exa-cel would be the first marketed CRISPR-based gene therapy.

Merck & Co’s market capitalisation grew by 8.4% over Q2 2023, attributed to its $10.8bn acquisition of Prometheus Biosciences. This strengthens Merck & Co’s immunology pipeline with the addition of PRA023, a monoclonal antibody drug that is currently being evaluated in ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and systemic sclerosis. This represents a strategic decision for Merck & Co (MSD), as PRA023 may offset the expected sales decline of blockbuster drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) following its loss of exclusivity in 2028.

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By GlobalData

Meanwhile, AbbVie reported the largest market capitalisation decline of 15.5% in Q2 2023, primarily due to the reported decline in sales of its blockbuster drug Humira (adalimumab) resulting from biosimilar competition. However, AbbVie is expected to rebound from the impact of Humira’s sales decline with its new immunology drugs, Skyrizi (risankizumab-rzaa) and Rinvoq (upadacitinib).

Pfizer continued to witness a double-digit drop in market capitalisation of 10.1% in Q2 2023 amid reduced demand for its Covid-19 vaccine Comirnaty (Covid-19 vaccine, messenger RNA) and antiviral treatment Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir). However, Pfizer recently received FDA approval for Abrysvo (respiratory syncytial virus vaccine). Concerns regarding the efficacy and safety of Daiichi Sankyo’s partnered monoclonal antibody-conjugated lung cancer drug with AstraZeneca, datopotamab deruxteca, triggered its market capitalisation decline of 13.5% in Q2 2023.

Leading biopharmaceutical companies face a steep sales cliff due to diminishing demand for Covid-19 therapies and rising biosimilar competition, which is anticipated to persist over this decade. Nonetheless, the industry has demonstrated resilience by employing strategies to mitigate the impacts of this impending sales cliff such as companies shifting their focus to alternative blockbuster drugs, pipeline diversification, and continued investment in the R&D of innovative therapies.