Top 20 Blockbuster Cancer Drugs

2017 Best Selling Oncology Drugs Include Revlimid and Avastin

Oncology medications are booming business for the pharmaceutical industry. Nearly all of the major companies are either currently manufacturing oncology drugs or have oncology medications in their pipeline as potential medications to sell in the coming years.

High Cost of Oncology Medications

Cancer affects millions of people each year, and as the world population continues to grow, the rate of new cancer cases will likely grow, too. Ongoing developments in the pharmaceutical industry continue to make cancer more treatable in many cases. 

Many of the newer medications are geared toward very specific types of cancer, with manufacturers charging premium prices and facing little competition. Since biologic treatments do not have the same kind of generic competition as chemical drugs, they have a longer shelf-life in terms of patent protection. This means the drug manufacturers can continue to charge whatever prices they see fit since their drugs have no generic equivalents for the foreseeable future, and therefore, no competition.

The pharmaceutical industry's 20 top-selling cancer drugs generate annual sales of over $50 billion worldwide. Celgene's Revlimid and Roche's Rituxan, Avastin, and Herceptin lead the pack, with $26 billion in sales for these four drugs alone.

International Demand for Oncology Drugs

There is an increasing demand worldwide for oncology medications, so pharmaceutical companies are seeing significant growth outside of their usual markets in the United States and Europe.

Rising healthcare spending in Asian countries like China and Japan make medications more accessible. An expanding middle class in India, partially due to the influx of pharmaceutical companies outsourcing manufacturing to Indian factories, has also made more expensive medical care possible for those who can afford it. 

The following list represents the top 20 prescription drugs for the treatment of cancer, in order by sales revenue, for the year 2017.

 

01
Revlimid

Pharmacist filling perscription
Musketeer/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Manufacturer: Celgene

Condition or Diseases treated: Multiple myeloma

Global sales: $4.2 billion

Generic name: Lenalidomide

02
Avastin

Manufacturer: Roche

Condition or Diseases treated: Breast, colorectal, lung, kidney, ovarian cancers

Global sales: $6.7 billion

Generic name: Bevacizumab

03
Herceptin

Manufacturer: Roche

Condition or Diseases treated: HER2+ breast cancer

Global sales: $6.5 billion

Generic name:  Trastuzumab

04
Rituxan

Manufacturer: Roche

Condition or Diseases treated: Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Global sales: $7.5 billion

Generic name: Rituximab

05
Opdivo

Manufacturer: Bristol-Myers Squibb; Ono Pharmaceutical​

Condition or Diseases treated: Non-small cell lung cancer; metastatic melanoma; renal cell carcinoma; classical Hodgkin lymphoma

Global sales: $4.7 billion

Generic name: Nivolumab

 

06
Gleevec

Manufacturer: Novartis

Condition or Diseases treated: Chronic myeloid leukemia, gastrointestinal stromal tumors

Global sales:  $4.7 billion

Generic name: Imatinib

07
Imbruvica

Manufacturer: Johnson & Johnson/Pharmacyclics

Condition or Diseases treated: Mantel cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocetic leukemia

Global Sales: $5.3 billion

Generic name: Ibrutinib capsules

08
Velcade

Manufacturer: Johnson & Johnson/Takeda

Condition or Diseases treated: Multiple myeloma, mantle cell lymphoma

Global sales: $2.6 billion

Generic name: Bortezomib

09
Zytiga

Manufacturer: Johnson & Johnson

Condition or Diseases treated: Prostate cancer

Global sales: $1.7 billion

Generic name: Abiraterone acetate

10
Xtandi

Manufacturer: Astellas Pharma/Pfizer

Condition or Diseases treated: Prostate cancer

Global sales: $2.371 billion

Generic name: Enzalutamide

11
Alimta

Manufacturer: Eli Lilly

Condition or Diseases treated: Non-small cell lung cancer

Global sales: $2.5 billion

Generic name: Pemetrexed

12
Gardasil

Manufacturer: Merck & Co.

Condition or Diseases treated: Cervical cancer

Global sales: $1.8 billion

Generic name: Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6,11, 16, and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant]

13
Ibrance

 Manufacturer: Pfizer

Condition or Diseases treated: Breast cancer

Global sales: $2.135 billion

Generic name: Palbociclib

14
Perjeta

Manufacturer: Roche

Condition or Diseases treated: HER2-positive breast cancer​​

Global sales: $1.828 billion

Generic name: Pertuzumab

 

15
Tasigna

Manufacturer: Novartis

Condition or Diseases treated: Chronic myeloid leukemia

Global Sales: $1.3 billion

Generic name:  Nilotinib

16
Xgeva

Manufacturer: Amgen

Condition or Diseases treated: Bone mestases

Global Sales: $1 billion

Generic name: Denosumab

17
Afinitor

Manufacturer: Novartis

Condition or Diseases treated: Breast cancer

Global  Sales: $1.3 billion

Generic name: Everolimus

18
Jakafi

Manufacturer: Incyte/Novartis

Condition or Diseases treated: Polycythemia vera; myelofibrosis​

Global sales: $1.434 billion

Generic name: Ruxolitinib

 

19
Tarceva

Manufacturer: Roche

Condition or Diseases treated: Non-small-cell lung, pancreatic cancers

Global  Sales: $1.428 billion

Generic name: Erlotinib

20
Keytruda

Manufacturer: Merck & Co.

Condition or Diseases treated: Advanced melanoma; non-small cell lung cancer; head and neck squamous cell cancer

Global sales: $1.402 billion

Generic name: ​Pembrolizumab

 

Predictions

The FDA has allocated "fast track" and breakthrough designation for many of the oncology drugs now in advanced clinical trials so it is expected there will be many new blockbuster cancer drugs in the years ahead. Industry analysts predict that oncology therapies now in development or recently released by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Merck and Johnson & Johnson will be among the new market leaders, along with more recent releases by Roche.