Humira could replace Lipitor as best-selling drug

For years, Pfizer’s cholesterol pill Lipitor has been the world’s best-selling drug. But with the blockbuster statin’s patent set to expire next year, what will replace it in the top slot?

One new report bets on Humira, the rheumatoid arthritis treatment sold by Abbott Laboratories and Eisai, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

By 2016, the drug’s annual sales will have nearly doubled to $10.1 billion, putting it ahead of Roche’s cancer drug Avastin (with $8.9 billion in sales), predicts EvaluatePharma, a London-based research firm.

Humira is one of three RA drugs that will make the top ten, says Christian Glennie, a senior analyst at EvaluatePharma. The other two RA drugs are Enbrel and Remicade.

Notably, though, Humira’s 2016 sales won’t come close to the $13.7 billion Lipitor earned at its peak in 2006. That’s partly because frugal insurance companies and state health systems are putting pressure on drug prices, Glennie says.

It’s also because Lipitor is an unusual beast – an effective pill for a truly mass market.

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