2020: A Pharma Industry Look Ahead for Key Products

By Patricia Van Arnum - DCAT Editorial Director

January 8, 2020

What are the key market developments in the pharmaceutical industry to watch for in 2020? DCAT Value Chain Insights highlights products projected for high growth prospects, important R&D projects, and overall market growth.

Products to watch in 2020

A recent report from Evaluate Ltd., the Vantage 2020 Preview, highlights key products to watch and growth prospects. The report highlights 10 key products with strong growth prospects in 2020, which includes eight drugs projected to generate sales growth in 2020 of $1 billion or more. Oncology dominates the growth outlook for pharma; four of the 10 new sales generators are oncology drugs.

The top new sales generator projected for 2020 is Merck & Co.’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab), a cancer immunotherapy with projected sales growth of $3.29 billion. Should this growth forecast for Keytruda come to pass, it will yield 2020 sales of $13.9 billion, which would put the drug on track to be the second largest-selling drug in 2020 behind AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab), an anti-inflammatory drug in multiple indications that has projected annual sales in 2020 of $18.7 billion, according to the Evaluate Ltd. analysis.

Keytruda is a PD‑L1 (programmed death ligand 1) blocking monoclonal antibody that is indicated for treating numerous cancers: melanoma; non-small cell lung cancer; head and neck squamous cell cancer; classical Hodgkin lymphoma; urothelial carcinoma (a kind of bladder and urinary tract cancer), microsatellite instability-high or a mismatch repair deficient solid tumors; gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma; squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus; certain types of cervical cancer; hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer); and renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer). Overall, sales of anti-PD-(L)1 antibodies are expected to grow by $5.2 billion in 2020, according to the Evaluate Ltd. report.

The other three oncology drugs among the top news sales growth generators are Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Revlimid (lenalidomide), AbbVie’s Imbruvica (ibrutinib), and AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso (osimertinib). Revlimid, which Bristol-Myers Squibb acquired in its $74-billion acquisition of Celgene, which was completed in November 2019, is a drug to treat myelodysplastic syndrome, multiple myeloma, and mantle cell lymphoma. Projected sales growth based on the Evaluate analysis is $1.0 billion. AbbVie’s Imbruvica (ibrutinib) is a small-molecule drug that binds permanently to a protein, Bruton's tyrosine kinase, which is important in B cells. It is used to treat B cell cancers, including mantle cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and Waldenström's macroglobulinemia. Projected sales growth for 2020 is $990 million. AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso (osimertinib) is indicated for treating non-small-cell lung cancer with a specific mutation. Projected sales growth for 2020, based on the Evaluate Ltd. analysis, is $1.0 billion.

The other top six new sales generators projected for 2020 based on Evaluate Ltd.’s Vantage 2020 Preview are: Gilead Sciences’ Biktarvy (bictegravir/emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide), a fixed-dose combination drug for treating HIV-1 infection, with projected 2020 sales growth of $1.60 billion; Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Eliquis (apixaban), an anticoagulant, with 2020 projected sales growth of $1.08 billion; Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic (semaglutide) for treating Type II diabetes with 2020 projected sales growth of $1.02 billion; Sanofi’s and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ Dupixent (dupilumab), a biologic for treating atopic dermatitis (eczema), asthma, and nasal polyps that result in chronic sinusitis, with 2020 projected sales of $1.01 billion; Roche’s Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), a biologic for treating adults with relapsing or primary progressive multiple sclerosis, with projected sales growth in 2020 of $970 million; and Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara (ustekinumab), a biologic for treating Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis, with projected 2020 sales growth of $810 million.

Growth drivers in certain drug types

Evaluate Ltd.’s Vantage 2020 Preview further identifies key drug types as growth drivers in 2020. As earlier mentioned, led by Merck & Co’s Keytruda, anti-PD-(L)1 antibodies, used as cancer immunotherapies, are expected to grow by $5.2 billion in 2020, according to the Evaluate report, making it the highest growth area. Antibodies against interleukin targets, which target autoimmune and inflammatory disease, are the second largest sales generator projected in 2020 at $4.2 billion. Sanofi’s and Regeneron’s Duxipent and Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara are examples of drugs in this class. Glucagon-like peptide (GLP) receptor agonists, used to treat Type II diabetes is another high growth area with projected 2020 sales growth of $2.0 billion led by Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic. The sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, also for treating Type II diabetes, have anticipated $1 billion in new sales in 2020.

Other key growth drivers in 2020 according to the Evaluate Ltd. report are: oral anticoagulants with 2020 projected sales growth of $1.9 billion; viral vaccines with projected growth of $1.4 billion; BTK inhibitors and immunomodulators each at $1.2 billion in new sales growth; cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors, used to treat cancer, and HIV combinations, each with $1.1 billion in 2020 projected sales growth; and cystic fibrosis drugs with projected 2020 sales growth of $1.0 billion. Overall, new sales growth total prescription sales are expected to grow by $50 billion in 2020.

Other key items

Evaluate Ltd.’s Vantage 2020 Preview further identifies key product launches in 2020 based on projected 2024 sales. On the top of the list is AstraZeneca’s and Daiichi Sankyo’s trastuzumab deruxtecan, an HER2-targeting antibody drug conjugate and potential new medicine for the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, with projected 2020 sales of $2.42 billion. The ADC includes trastuzumab, the active ingredient in Roche's Herceptin, an anticancer drug. 

Among R&D projects, CSL Behring’s investigational cardiovascular drug, CSL112 is estimated to have the highest clinical spend in 2020 of any R&D project, with a $621 million bill forecast; Keytruda tops the ranking for marketed drugs, with $1.69 billion in estimated clinical spend in 2020.