Top pharmaceutical drugs - Statistics & Facts

The global pharmaceutical market is to a large degree driven by its top pharmaceutical products. The same is true for the leading pharmaceutical companies, which generate a large share of their revenue from their top drug brands. For example, Pfizer makes some 23 billion U.S. dollars with its top 10 pharmaceutical drugs, or around 40 percent of its total revenue.

In 2016, AbbVie's rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira was the world’s top medication based on revenue. Humira generated approximately 16 billion U.S. dollars of revenue worldwide. Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor was by far the top global drug for years, but yielded its position due to heavy losses caused by patent expiration. Between 2011 and 2012, Pfizer’s revenue through Lipitor fell by some 60 percent.

In the U.S., AbbVie’s Humira was also the top medication based on revenue in 2016. The drug generated some 13.6 billion U.S. dollars of revenue in that year. Due to lower prices, generics are always the top-selling pharmaceutical products when measured by dispensed prescriptions. In 2016, there were some 123 million prescriptions for top generic levothyroxine in the United States alone.

Oncology is one of the leading therapeutic areas by sales revenue, both worldwide and in the United States. In the U.S., expenditure on cancer medication amounted to about 45.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. The top drug in this category is Celgene’s Revlimid, generating approximately 4.4 billion U.S. dollars in the United States.

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