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    Top 8 New Drugs to Watch for 2021

    New drugs projected to be major blockbuster drugs by 2021.

    The top eight drugs that bear watching this year—the ones that are expected to achieve blockbuster sales of more than $1 billion each by 2021—include a medicine for multiple sclerosis and one for eczema, a new report said.

    The 2017 “Drugs to Watch” report from Clarivate Analytics Cortellis Competitive Intelligence, predicts that Ocrevus (ocrelizumab, from Genentech and Roche), will be a top seller in coming years.

    “Twice yearly injection reduces the rate of relapse of the disease by 46% more than that of the former standard of care, Rebif,” wrote Alexandra Kibble, senior editor for Clarivate, in a blog post. As a result, Ocrevus will produce a projected $3.33 billion in sales in 2021.

    In addition, Ocrevus is the first drug to prove effective in primary progressive MS, an aggressive form. “The drug also delays disease progression and reduces the number of new brain lesions,” Kibble wrote.

    Although Genentech is estimating that Ocrevus will cost $65,000 a year for patients without health insurance, it is less expensive than Rebif, which costs around $86,000 a year.

    Related article: 10 More Newly Approved Drugs

    While prescribers may continue to favor the oral options that Rebif provides until they are more familiar with Ocrevus, “specialists will likely be rapid adopters and strong uptake may be expected in the medium term,” Kibble wrote.

    Dupixent (dupilumab from Regeneron) for moderate-to-severe eczema, will be the second most profitable drug in 2021, bringing in an estimated $2.8 billion by 2021. By early May, Regeneron reported that more than 3,500 new scripts had been written for Dupixent and payers are expected to cover the drug, despite its $37,000 annual price tag.

    The other drugs expected to be top performers in sales by 2021 include:

    • Durvalumab (Imfinzi from AstraZeneca) for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma, projected to earn $2.1 billion.
    • Semaglutide (from Novo Nordisk), a not-yet-approved glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analog for type 2 diabetes that will have an estimated $1.9 billion in earnings.
    • Baricitinib (Olumiant, from Incyte and Eli Lilly and Company) for rheumatoid arthritis, will earn around $1.3 billion.
    • Ribociclib (Kisqali, from Novartis) to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancer, projected to earn $1.3 billion.
    • Avelumab (Bavencio, from Merck and Pfizer), the only FDA-approved treatment for metastatic Merkel-cell carcinoma, projected to earn $1.2 billion.
    • Niraparib (Zejula, from Tesaro) to treat ovarian cancer, projected to earn $1.1 billion.

    While Clarivate is bullish on the top drugs to watch in 2017, its analysts also caution that pressure on drug pricing—as well as political uncertainty in both the United States and Europe—could impact sales of the drugs.

    “The reverberations from strong criticism of price hiking during the U.S. election—on both branded and generic products—are likely to continue to be felt as demands persist for new drug pricing models,” Kibble wrote.

    President Donald Trump has stated he will pursue an agenda against high U.S. drug prices and is seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Kibble wrote. “In Europe, meanwhile, Brexit casts further unknowns in regulatory authorization procedures, trade, and pricing.”

    “Industry leaders may start to find it more difficult to strategize accurately for the future, and companies may begin to become more reserved in their outlook until they better understand how these new factors will shape the industry,” Kibble wrote.

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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