Here’s 2017 biopharma sales projections, but Trump might have other plans

The unpredictable president-elect has made industry forecasting a much tougher job. But the show must go on. Here are some highlights from Evaluate Pharma’s new 2017 biopharma report; the winners, the losers and more.

Foretelling future from crystal ball

Now that we know who’s taking the White House, it’s a lot easier to predict the year ahead in biotech and pharma, EP Vantage writes in the foreword of its 2017 Preview report.

Or so we thought.

On Wednesday, Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ Donald Trump told the publication that he didn’t like where the market was heading.

“I’m going to bring down drug prices,” said President-Elect Trump, according to the interview transcript.

He brought many biopharma stock prices down with those seven words. It was a reminder too, that the future of the industry is permanently up in the air.

Evaluate’s data and predictions still hold plenty of value said report author Amy Brown, in an email forwarded by a company representative.

I would argue that determining whether what Trump says will turn into what Trump does is still very much an open question. And that his policies were never laid out– he remains unpredictable. More specifically on drug pricing, the report makes it very clear that this will continue to be a huge issue for the sector next year.

So without further ado, here are some of Evaluate Pharma’s predictions for the year ahead, outlined in a preview report by its editorial arm, EP Vantage. Nothing is certain, but there are some interesting trends.

Source: EvaluatePharma® November 2016

Source: EvaluatePharma, Nov. 2016

After several blockbuster years curing hepatitis C, Gilead’s top-selling drug appears to be slowing down. EP Vantage does note, however, that Harvoni is just one of three approved treatments for the virus that Gilead owns.

It is worth pointing out that this graphic understates the dominance of Gilead in terms of ownership of the biggest drug franchises next year. Its three marketed hepatitis C products, all of which contain sofosbuvir, are forecast to generate sales of $11.7bn next year. However this is an empire in decline: in 2016 these products brought in $14.9bn.

In the individual rankings, Abbvie’s Humira continues to dominate with sales projected at $17.6 billion — a fair chunk of the company’s total drug sales of $27.7 billion.

Along with Celgene’s Revlimid, Humira is also one of just two top 10 drugs that are expected to increase sales. It’s no wonder Abbvie is aggressively fighting off competition from biosimilars.

Source: EvaluatePharma Nov. 2016

Source: EvaluatePharma, Nov. 2016

The new product launches are more of a stab in the dark — but still thought-provoking.

Perhaps most controversial, is the inclusion of Kite Pharma’s CAR-T therapy KTE-C19, which comes in at eighth place.

In the discussion, EP Vantage says “the recent setback of Juno’s JCAR015 makes its rival’s early approval ambitions look ever more optimistic.”

Juno’s leading CAR-T program is currently on hold after the death of two more patients in its clinical trial.

But the field is so rapidly moving, it’s hard to stay on top. In a surprise move, Novartis delivered extremely promising results from its CAR-T program at the ASH annual meeting in early December. It’s is now firmly in the running to gain the first FDA-approval in the class.

At the end of the day, one, both, or neither CAR-T products from Novartis and Kite could be approved in 2017. It’s an interesting space to watch.

Source: EvaluatePharma Nov. 2016

Source: EvaluatePharma Nov. 2016

Eli Lilly has the unfortunate honor of featuring twice on the list of the top 5 patents to expire in 2017, with Cialis and Alimta. Combined, these represent 27 percent of Lilly’s 2016 sales.

Compounding the pain, news broke late in November that its potential blockbuster Alzheimer’s drug solanezumab had failed once again in a Phase 3 trial. Eli Lilly will be hoping its investigational rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib can make it to market and fill that gap.

On the other hand, it’s hard to feel sorry for Pfizer. The patent for its erectile dysfunction drug Viagra is set to expire, but it has made a handsome profit over the years. The drug was first approved in 1998. As of 2013, it was still raking in over $2 billion per year.

Photo: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images