100 Top-Selling Drugs Report Released

Mark Crane

May 10, 2013

The acid blocker esomeprazole (Nexium, AstraZeneca) and the antipsychotic medication aripiprazole (Abilify, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co) are the top-selling US prescription drugs for the first quarter of this year, according to a recent report from Drugs.com, an online drug information resource.

The 2 drugs, with quarterly sales in the $1.5 billion range, rank as sales leaders for the fourth quarter in a row and showed growth of 1.21% and 3.24%, respectively, in the first quarter.

Depression and pain agent duloxetine (Cymbalta, Eli Lilly), which faces end-of-year patent loss, came in third, topping rosuvastatin (Crestor, AstraZeneca). Both had first quarter sales of almost $1.3 billion. Asthma and COPD inhaler salmeterol-fluticasone propionate (Advair Diskus, GlaxoSmithKline) came in fifth.

The recent US influenza season boosted sales for oseltamivir (Tamiflu, Roche), which jumped 32 spots on the sales list and posted a 65% sales increase. Other respiratory medications, including palivizumab (Synagis, Abbot) for pediatric respiratory syncytial virus and salmeterol-fluticasone propionate, also saw a boost in sales.

"Seasonal fluctuations in pharmaceutical sales are common, particularly in cold, flu and allergy seasons," Philip Thornton, chief executive officer of Drugs.com, said in a news release. "This year's flu activity, which started about four weeks early and was relatively severe, is evident in the Tamiflu numbers."

The drug with the highest dollar loss for the quarter is modafinil, the generic version of Provigil (Teva), used to improve wakefulness. Launched in the second quarter of 2012, the drug lost $46 million for the quarter. Oral multiple sclerosis drug interferon beta-1a (Avonex, Biogen Idec) lost almost $34 million. Hepatitis C drug telaprevir (Incivek, Vertex) sales dropped by $32 million, as new hepatitis C drug approvals are in the wings, and a serious skin reaction resulted in a new boxed warning for the drug, Drugs.com said.

The low-molecular-weight heparin enoxaparin (Lovenox, sanofi-aventis) and HIV-prevention drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine (Truvada, Gilead) also sustained losses in the first quarter.

A full list of the 100 top-selling drugs is available on the Drugs.com Web site.

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