Pfizer to lose top spot by 2014

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pfizer, Pharmacology

A new report predicts that current global sales leader Pfizer will relinquish its position by 2014 leaving European pharmaceutical producers like Roche and Sanofi-Aventis free to vie for the top spot.

Ian Strickland, the product manager at study authors EvaluatePharma, told in-PharmaTechnologist that: “Pfizer's leading product at the moment is Lipitor, which is the biggest selling drug of all time. It is due to lose patent protection in 2011. Lipitor's sales in 2007 were $12.7bn but they are forecast to drop to $1bn by 2014.

“Similarly a number of Pfizer's other drugs (Norvasc, Viagra and Xalatan) are due to lose patent protection before 2014. Sales of these drugs will fall $16.7bn between 2007 and 2014. Current sales forecasts for Pfizer's R&D products do not increase sufficiently to compensate for this massive loss in revenues​,” he added.

While the forecast comes as no great surprise for Pfizer, which has sought to cut its overheads through plant closures and redundancies in recent years, the report does suggest that the future market will favour drugmakers with broader pipelines over those that are reliant on a few “blockbuster” products.

Strickland explained that Roche, for example, is not facing the same patent cliff as many of the other major pharmaceutical companies. He added that: “In 2014 Roche's top five products are forecast to be biological products (Avastin, Actemra, Rituxan, Mircera and Herceptin​).”

What exactly will happen with genericisation of biological products in the US is currently unclear, but I would imagine that erosion of the brand product's sales will not be as steep as the erosion of traditional small molecule brands. In addition, the main patent on four of these five products will not expire before 2014. Roche has added long-term value through the strategic investments in Genentech and Chugai​,” he concluded.

When contacted by in-PharmaTechnologist, Pfizer declined to comment on the speculation.

Prescription sales worth $750bn by 2012

EvaluatePharma’s study is based on the consensus valuations of reports published by US and European equity analysts. As Strickland explained it uses “an arithmetic average of the equity analyst forecasts. Once all of these consensus forecasts were brought together for all of the top pharma companies we were able to rank companies based on their 2014 prescription sales​.”

EvaluatePharma’s report also predicts that, overall, global prescription drug sales will increase a modest 4.6 per cent over the next few years, reaching a total value of $753bn by 2012.

Related topics: Regulatory & Safety, Lifecycle Management

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