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Insight & Intelligence™ : Nov 6, 2012

Top 10 Best-Selling Drugs of the 21st Century

Find out which drugs are in the most medicine cabinets.

It seems like you can't turn on your television or your computer nowadays without seeing another advertisement for a new prescription medicine, complete with an invitation to "ask your doctor if it's right for you!" Of these, many—some with a little help from serendipity—go on to great success. GEN has put together a list of the top 10 best-selling drugs between 2000 and 2011, based on sales figures disclosed by companies marketing the drugs in annual reports, quarterly press releases, and other publicly available materials. Are any of these in your medicine chest?

#10. Humira (adalimumab)1

$32.044 billion

Abbott Laboratories

Approved 2002; Launched 2003; U.S. patent expires December 2016

2011: $7.932 billion

2010: $6.548 billion

#9. Lovenox (enoxaparin)

$33.069 billion

Sanofi2

Approved 1993; Launched 1993; U.S. patent found unenforceable in 2009 by U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld lower court finding of inequitable conduct by Sanofi based on arguments by generic drug makers Amphastar Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries

2011: $2.737 billion (€2.111 billion)

2010: $3.637 billion (€2.806 billion)

#8. Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate)

$36.652 billion

AstraZeneca

Approved 1997; Launched 1997 (Seroquel IR) and 2007 (Seroquel XR); U.S. patent expired September 2011, followed by a six-month pediatric extension that ended in March 2012

2011: $5.828 billion—$4.338 billion (IR) + $1.490 billion (XR)

2010: $5.302 billion—$4.148 billion (IR) + $1.154 billion (XR)

#7. Singulair (montelukast)

$38.466 billion

Merck & Co.

Approved 1998; Launched 1999; U.S. patent expired August 2012

2011: $5.479 billion

2010: $4.987 billion

#6. Nexium (esomeprazole)

$44.336 billion

AstraZeneca

Approved 2000; Launched 2001; U.S. patent expires May 2014

2011: $4.429 billion

2010: $4.969 billion

#5. Enbrel (etanercept)

$45.168 billion

Amgen markets drug in U.S. and Canada under agreement with Pfizer, which obtained rights to market and sell the drug outside those nations when it acquired Wyeth in 2009. Amgen acquired rights in 2002 through acquisition of Immunex. Takeda has held marketing rights in Japan since drug was approved there in 2005.

Approved 1998; Launched 1998; U.S. patent extended through 2028, a 16-year extension from original expiration date of October 2012

2011: $7.882 billion—consisting of $3.701 billion (Amgen) + $3.666 (Pfizer revenue outside U.S. and Canada) + $0.515 billion (Takeda; ¥41.4B)3

2010: $7.285 billion—consisting of $3.534 billion (Amgen) + $3.274 (Pfizer revenue outside U.S. and Canada) + $0.477 billion (Takeda; ¥38.4B)

#4. Zyprexa (olanzapine)

$50.409 billion

Eli Lilly

Approved 1996; Launched 2000; U.S. patent expired October 2011

2011: $4.622 billion

2010: $5.026 billion

#3. Advair (fluticasone/salmeterol)4

$58.823 billion 

GlaxoSmithKline

Approved 2000; Launched 2001; U.S. patent expired March 2012

2011: $8.163 billion (£5.061 billion)

2010: $8.288 billion (£5.139 billion)

#2. Plavix (clopidogrel)5

$74.588 billion 

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi (developed by predecessor Sanofi-Synthélabo)

Approved 1997; Launched 1998; U.S. patent expired May 2012

2011: $9.734 billion—$7.087 billion (BMS) + $2.647 billion (Sanofi; €2.040 billion)

2010: $9.368 billion—$6.666 billion (BMS) + $2.702 billion (Sanofi; €2.083 billion)

#1. Lipitor (atorvastatin)

$121.437 billion

Pfizer (developed by Warner-Lambert, acquired 1999)

Approved 1996; Launched 1997; U.S. patent expired November 2011

2011: $9.577 billion

2010: $10.733 billion