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Pfizer maintains lead in top CNS drug sales - just

But Biogen is looking to take the top spot next year as its MS portfolio grows

Pfizer building  

Pfizer remains as the world's biggest seller of central nervous system (CNS) drugs but its lead at the top is being threatened by the rise of Biogen.

The US pharma giant saw CNS drug sales of $8.1bn last year – but this was flat compared to 2013.

Meanwhile the specialist biotech Biogen saw an impressive 46% spike in sales - boosting it up from third to second place in the list, with $8bn in revenue for 2014. 

This is according to new data published exclusively on PMLiVE by pharma consultants and analysts GlobalData. 

Biogen's rise is predominately due to its growing share of the multiple sclerosis (MS) market, with strong sales for its established medicine Tsyabri (natalizumab) and more recent launches of two new agents in the form of Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) and Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a).  

In its first quarter results, released late last month, its total MS sales were $2.1bn, up from $1.7bn last year, meaning it is on course to topple Pfizer from its current leading position. 

Pfizer's number one spot is predominately from the blockbuster sales of its pain drug Lyrica (pregabalin), which saw $5.1bn worth of revenue last year - a 12% jump on 2013. 

It is also now Pfizer's top-selling medicine after the 2012 patent expiry of its once £13bn a year statin Lipitor (atorvastatin). But the firm is now facing generic erosion in some markets for certain licences, most notably in the UK, with further patents set to fall from 2017.

It has also seen sales of its once blockbuster Alzheimer's treatment Aricept (donepezil hydrochloride) decimated in the US after years of generic copies flooding the market. 

Meanwhile Novartis, which this year toppled Pfizer as the world's largest pharma firm by drug sales, has climbed from fourth to third place in 2014 with its CNS revenue growing 7% to $5.7bn. 

Novartis, like Biogen, has seen much of its sales from the success of its MS portfolio, notably its MS pill Gilenya (fingolimod) - which competes against Tsyabri - and brings in more than $2.5bn a year in sales.

Otsuka and Lilly saw the largest decline in CNS drug sales with the Japanese firm dropping an eye-watering 50% compared to 2014, with Lilly falling by 28%. 

Otsuka's anti-psychotic drug Abilify (aripiprazole), which the company co-markets with Bristol-Myers Squibb, was once the sales leader in the CNS arena but it is now being hit by patent losses. 

The drug will now start to lose a massive $6.2bn by 2019 as the result of generic competition, making it the biggest victim of the industry's current patent cliff. It brought in sales of $4.4bn last year, a major drop from the $7.2bn for 2013. 

Lilly is still suffering from the falling sales of its bipolar and schizophrenia treatment Zyprexa (olanzapine), which began losing its patent back in 2011. Zyprexa's sales have plummeted from over $5bn in 2010 to just $1bn in 2014. 

A full list of the top 25 firms by CNS drug revenue can be found here: http://www.pmlive.com/top_pharma_list/cns_revenues

Article by
Ben Adams

12th May 2015

From: Sales

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