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Pfizer Inc. (PFE), Amgen, Inc. (AMGN): The Best-Selling Medications of 2013 (So Far)

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Believe it or not, 2013 is getting close to being two-thirds of the way over. Many pharmaceutical firms have enjoyed great stock returns and nice profits thus far in the year. Those returns and profits stem from medications that racked up solid revenue. Here are the five best-selling medications of 2013 — at least so far.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)

1. Humira
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that AbbVie‘s Humira takes the top spot on our list with more than $4.8 billion in sales during the first half of 2013. Humira ranked No. 1 in worldwide sales in 2012 as well.

Humira is approved for multiple inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, placque psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and juvenile ideopathic arthritis. With these approved indications impacting millions across the world, AbbVie continues to see solid growth for the drug. Sales for Humira climbed 12.1% year-over-year during the second quarter.

AbbVie knows that Humira’s reign won’t go on indefinitely, though. The anti-inflammatory drug goes off patent in the U.S. in December 2016 and loses European patent exclusivity in 2018. Because Humira makes up more than half of AbbVie’s total revenue, the company faces significant challenges building up the rest of its portfolio to offset potential losses that loom on the horizon.

2. Advair/Seretide
Advair/Seretide from GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) comes in at second place. So far this year, the drug has garnered sales of around $4.1 billion.

GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) markets its fluticasone/salmeterol formulation for treating asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, under the Advair brand name in the U.S. and as Seretide in many other countries. The Advair/Seretide franchise made up 30% of GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK)’s total sales in the second quarter of 2013.

Although Advair lost patent protection in the U.S. in 2010 and Seretide goes off patent in Europe this year, GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) hasn’t faced a generic challenger yet. The company has benefited from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration moving slowly on establishing bioequivalance for inhaled corticosteroids in multi-dose inhalers or dry powder inhalers.

3. Enbrel
The market for rheumatoid arthritis and similar conditions is like the pharmaceutical equivalent of a gold mine. Enbrel, which is used to treat most of the same indications as Humira, ranks as the third-highest-selling drug in the world with more than $4 billion in sales during the first half of 2013.

That money is split between partners Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE). Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) reported first-half Enbrel sales of nearly $2.2 billion, while Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)’s sales for the drug totaled $1.8 billion. Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) markets the drug along with Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) in the U.S. and Canada for now, but their collaboration ends in October of this year. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) holds exclusive marketing rights outside of these areas.

Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) scored a victory in 2011 by winning a new patent for Enbrel that provides protection through 2028 in the U.S. However, Enbrel’s main European patent expires in 2015, which will impact Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE). Even with extended protection in the U.S., Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) can’t rest too comfortably. If a biosimilar for Humira enters the market within the next few years, it would likely hurt Enbrel’s sales as well as Humira’s.

4. Lantus
Sanofi SA (ADR)
(NYSE:SNY) claims the No. 4 spot with diabetes drug Lantus. During the first half of this year, sales for Lantus totaled around $3.5 billion.

The diabetes market is huge and counts multiple blockbuster drugs. Lantus has been able to rise to the top in large part due to its convenience. It is long-acting, so patients only have to take it once per day. Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE:SNY) also sells Lantus with its soloSTAR pen that makes it easy for self-injection by patients.

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