Best Pharmaceutical Companies – Quarterly Analysis – Q2 2018


Here is the most comprehensive review and analysis of the quarterly results of the 10 best pharmaceutical companies. This series provide you with a regular performance update of the major pharmaceutical and biotechnology players


With a total revenue of $13.5 billion in the second quarter of 2018, Pfizer maintains its position as the best selling pharmaceutical company. Its revenue growth increased by 4% and was driven by continued growth of key brands such as ELIQUIS, IBRANCE and XELJANZ globally as well as biosimilars and increased performance in emerging markets.

Pfizer has a robust pipeline with promising innovative therapeutics in late and early stages. In the second quarter Pfizer received approvals for NIVESTYM (a biosimilar to NEUPOGEN), RETACRIT (a biosimilar to EPOGEN), XELJANZ for the treatment of active psoriatic arthritis and XTANDI for castration-resistant prostate cancer.  Pfizer’s pipeline also reported some notable advancements in the development pipeline of some candidates moving from early stage to later stages.


In the second quarter of 2018, Novartis’ revenue totalled $13.2 billion an increase of $916 million or 7% compared to the prior-year quarter results. Key growth drivers include COSENTYX (USD 701 million, +40% cc), ENTRESTO (USD 239 million, +113% cc) and Oncology franchise particularly PROMACTA/REVOLADE  (USD 292 million, +38% cc), TAFINLAR + MEKINIST (USD 284 million, +28% cc) and JAKAVI  (USD 239 million, +24% cc).

With continuous focus on innovation, Novartis strengthens its R&D by advancing its pipeline. During this quarter, new approvals were scored for KYMRIA for B-cell lymphoma, AIMOVIG for treating migraine, TAFINLAR + MEKINIST for melanoma and GILENYA for multiple sclerosis. In addition to this, several results were presented for ongoing trials.


By the end of June 2018, Roche boasts of a strong performance in the first half of the year. The pharma division second quarter sales rose by 7% to CHF 11.2 billion.  Key growth drivers were the recently launched medicine, OCREVUS, used to treat two forms of multiple sclerosis, and cancer medicines PERJETA, ALECENSA and TECENTRIQ. Sales were also partially offset by lower sales of MABTHERA/RITUXAN and TARCEVA.

In the second quarter, health authorities granted several approvals for Roche medicines. Approvals in the second quarter include: European Commission approval of PERJETA for adjuvant treatment of HER2-positive early breast cancer at high risk of recurrence; FDA approves new indications for existing medicines: subcutaneous formulation of ACTEMRA/ROACTEMRA for a form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis; MABTHERA/RITUXAN for pemphigus vulgaris; AVASTIN for a form of ovarian cancer. Results from a number of late-stage studies were announced as well during the second quarter, with TECENTRIQ in particular continuing its news flow with six positive out of seven readouts during the quarter.


The pharmaceutical division of J&J delivered a solid performance in the last three months ending June 2018 with total sales of $10.4 billion, an increase of 19.9% compared to the same period of the prior year. Sales growth was driven by STERLARA for the treatment of inflammatory disease, ZYTIGA for prostate cancer, DARZALEX for multiple myeloma, IMBRUVICA for B-cell malignancies and TREMFYA for the treatment of psoriasis.

During this quarter, J&J achieved certain milestones in the drug development space. The company received FDA approvals for DARZALEX in combination with VELCADE for the treatment of multiple myeloma. The European commission granted marketing authorization for JULUCA for the treatment of HIV and a supplemental New Drug Application was submitted to the FDA for OPSUMIT (macitentan) to include the treatment of adults with inoperable chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension to its approved indications.


Sanofi’s sales in the second quarter totalled €8.2 billion, a 2.5% decrease compared to the prior-year results. Sales drop were largely offset by the impact of loss of exclusivity of LANTUS and SEVELEMER in the US and vaccines phasing. However, sales growth was reported in Immunology and Rare blood disorder franchise. Products like DUPIXIENT, KEVZARA, CARDELGA, MYOZYME and FABRAZYME delivered strong performance during the quarter. The emerging markets seem to be star players in this quarter as well: they are responsible for 31% of the company’s sales with a solid growth of 52% compared to the same period of the previous year.

As at the end of the second quarter, Sanofi had a total of 87 projects in the pipeline- 51 early stage projects and 36 late stages projects- spanning across immune-inflammation, oncology, rare disease, rare blood disorders, multiple sclerosis& neurology, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and vaccines therapeutic areas.


The total sales of Merck’s pharma division in the second quarter were $9.3 billion, up by 2% compared to the results of the same period in 2017. Overall, increased sales were driven by growth in oncology (KEYTRUDA), vaccines (GARDASIL) and hospital acute care (BRIDION), and sales weres partially offset by lower sales in virology (ZEPATIER) and the ongoing impacts of the loss of market exclusivity for several products (ZETIA, VYTORIN, REMICADE).

Merck is a strong leader in immune-oncology and has a robust oncology pipeline that reflects their commitment towards expanding oncology treatments. In the quarter ending June 2018, Merck advanced development for KEYTRUDA, LYNPARZA and LENVIMA. Other pipeline developments include approval for GARDASIL by the FDA and China’s Food and Drug Administration and announced results of phase 3 studies of doravirine in HIV patients.


Abbvie reported a total revenue of $8.3 billion, an increase of 19.2% year-over-year. The outstanding performance in this quarter was driven primarily by HUMIRA, IMBRUVICA and MAVYRET.

During this quarter, Abbvie made advancements in its pipeline. Key developments include: FDA approval of VENCLEXTA for chronic lymphatic leukemia (CLL), FDA approval for ORLISSA for pain associated with endometriosis; regulatory submissions for VENCLEXTA in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), IMBRUVICA in Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (WM) and Risankizumab in psoriasis.


Amgen’s total revenue at the end of the second quarter came to $6.1 billion, an increase of 4% versus the same period in 2017. The strong performance is attributed to double digit, volume driven growth from new and recently launched products including: REPATHA, KYPROLIS, PROLIA, XGEVA, AIMOVIG and PARSABIVE.

Pipeline updates in the second quarter include; approvals for AIMOVIG for migraine, PROLIA for glucocorticoid induced osteoporosis, BLINCYTO for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, REPATHA for reducing cardiovascular risk and KAJINTI for breast cancer. Regulatory submissions were also made for AIMOVIG and EVENITY.


Gilead’s second quarter sales totaled $5.5 billion. Compared to reported sales of $7 billion in second quarter of 2017, the company experiences a decrease in sales. Sales were offset by lower sales of HARVONI, EPCLUSA and SOVALDI as a result of increased competition.

Gilead made some significant pipeline advancements across the HIV & liver disease, Oncology and cell therapy and Inflammation therapeutic areas. Approvals were received for BIKTARVY, EPCLUSA, TRUVADA and YESCARTA. In addition to this, a good number of results for ongoing trials were announced in the second quarter of 2018.


In the second quarter of 2018, AstraZeneca’s product sales increased by 2% to $5 billion. The new generation of medicines is said to have contributed significantly to the sales of the quarter as well as the double-digit growth of the Emerging market business. However, the continued strength of the Emerging Markets business was offset by the impact from the loss of CRESTOR exclusivity in Europe and Japan. Other key drivers of its strong performance are BRILINTA and FARXIGA in CVRM, FASENRA in Respiratory and its oncology franchise.  AstraZeneca’s oncology franchise grew by 44% to $1,434 million driven mainly by LYNPARZA, TAGRISSO and IMFINZI.

AstraZeneca’s pipeline highlights for the quarter features: expanded regulatory approvals for LYNPARZA, TAGRISSO, IMFINZI and LOKELMA; regulatory submissions for FORXIGA and BYDUREON; and series of major Phase III data readouts and other developments.

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