Novartis set for top spot

 Novartis is expected to overtake Pfizer and become the biggest manufacturer of prescription medicines by 2018, according to new consensus data.

Research by EvaluatePharma estimates Novartis will record sales of more than $50bn in six years’ time, with its eye care business Alcon and generic unit Sandoz driving growth.

But the outlook is not good for US-based companies with only Pfizer remaining in the top five by 2018 and Sanofi, GSK and Roche maintaining a strong presence.

Data found that despite generic competition on Diovan and Glivec and disappointment from key projects such as Gilenya and its new respiratory franchise, Novartis is expected to record annual growth between 2011 and 2018 of 1.2%.

This is in contrast with AstraZeneca whose annual sales are expected to drop from $32.4bn in 2011 to $22.1bn in 2018 representing a negative growth of 5.3%.

Gilead Sciences is expected to experience the biggest increase in annual growth of the top fifteen companies with data showing sales will rise from $8.1bn to $15.7bn at a rate of 9.9% per year.

Novo Nordisk is also forecast to enter the top 15 ranked companies for the first time due to an increasing demand for its diabetes medicines. Annual growth is expected to be 7% until 2018 with sales totalling nearly $20bn.

One of the biggest casualties, data found, will be Eli Lilly. The Indianapolis research-based company currently claims to be the 10th biggest pharmaceutical company in the world. But Lilly fails to make the top 15 companies after research found a drop in sales will see it fall to 17th place by 2018. But researchers did note that Lilly’s Alzheimer’s candidate, solanezumab, could reverse the trend if it successfully enters the lucrative market.

Lilly will be replaced in the list by German healthcare giant Bayer, which also enters the top 15 global companies for the first time, with annual sales of around $16.5bn by 2018 boosted by Xarelto.