The Top 6 Companies of the Pharmaceutical Innovation Index 2018


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IDEA Pharma recently published its “Pharmaceutical Innovation Index 2018.” This report ranks biopharma companies on their ability to bring products from Phase I/II to market and then successfully commercialize them. They used a variety of sources, including company websites, third-party institutions such as, and syndicated and analyst reports to make their list.

The list looks at 32 well-known biopharmaceutical companies. Here’s a peek at the top six.

#1. AstraZeneca. Having ranked #15 in 2017, AstraZeneca jumped to the top spot. The report notes, How? “A series of strategic and successful decisions that helped generate a substantial amount of robust positive data for their pipeline and began to stem the company’s downward trend since the loss of several product exclusivities between 2011 and 2017.”

In 2017 the company launched five “significant new medicines,” including Imfinzi for advanced bladder cancer, Calquence for r/r MCL, Qtern in T2D, Bevespi Aerosphere in COPD, and Fasenra for severe asthma. It hasn’t all been rosy, however. In August 2018, the company’s Bevespi Aerosphere didn’t show any advantage over GlaxoSmithKline’s Anoro Ellipta for COPD in a Phase III clinical trial. However, it was approved in Europe for adults with COPD in January 2019.

#2. Gilead. Gilead’s ranking is largely based on its move into new markets. The report notes, “Despite crumbling revenues from blockbuster Harvoni (a drop off of more than half, from $9.08 billion in 2016 to $4.37 billion in 2017) Gilead is reporting net product sales between $24.5 billion and 25.5 billion in 2017, up from a range of $22.5 billion to $24.5 billion. This increase in revenue comes from new products, such as Vosevi, as well as external acquisition which drove increasing market share from their core strategic therapeutic areas.”

Big on that external acquisitions list is its acquisition of Kite to enter the CAR-T immuno-oncology market. That resulted in the approval of Yescarta for third-line treatment for large B-cell lymphoma in October 2017.

#3(T). Johnson & Johnson. During 2017, J&J had a strong of regulatory milestones, clinical data read-outs and drug-specific revenue. New products included Darzalex for multiple myeloma, Imbruvica for B-cell cancers, and Tremfya for plaque psoriasis. IDEA Pharma writes, “In addition to growth from new products, J&J managed to preserve Remicade revenues, no easy feat in an ever-rising tide of biosimilars.”

J&J’s biggest struggle has been a string of lawsuit losses and the bad press that comes with its talcum powder products being contaminated with asbestos. In May 2018, a complainant was awarded more than $21 million in damages. In July, a jury awarded almost $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women and their families. There are approximately 10,000 lawsuits against J&J and its talc products over possibly causing ovarian cancer.

#3(T). Novartis. Novartis rose from the previous year’s position of #9. The report cites its approval of CAR-T therapy Kymriah in 2017, and its work in getting it approved for a variety of indications. The report notes, “Although Novartis faced generic competition from patent expiration of its cancer drug Gleevec/Glivec, the company’s commitment to strengthening its oncology portfolio is evidence with the recent developments and launches in this space.”

#5. AbbVie. AbbVie actually slid from the #2 spot to the #5 spot. The report notes that the company’s Humira “is expected to hold on to the number one spot in sales for 2018 and is on track for reaching forecasted peak sales figures of $21 billion in 2020.”

However, Humira is facing competition from a variety of biosimilars, especially in Europe. Meanwhile, the company is working hard to grow its anti-inflammatory portfolio in response to the likelihood of Humira revenue losses in the future. It is also working to solidify its oncology portfolio, especially with Imbruvica.

#6. Bristol-Myers Squibb. Previously third on the list, Bristol-Myers Squibb dropped to #6. In the report, IDEA Pharma notes that the company’s Opdivo is approved to treat nine tumor types and 15 indications. And at the time of the publication, it noted the company had presented data that would likely lead to approval in kidney cancer.

On Jan. 3, 2019, the company announced it was buying Celgene Corporation for $74 billion. That will create a pharma giant with a strong presence in oncology, inflammatory and immunologic diseases, and cardiovascular disease. It will have nine drugs with more than $1 billion in annual sales, with an oncology pipeline including Opdivo, Revlimid, Pomylyst and Yervoy. Its cardiovascular pipeline will be led by Eliquis and the Immunology and Inflammation franchise will be led by Orencia and Otezla.




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