The industry analysts at Thomson Reuters put their heads together to tap the biggest new blockbusters in the making this year and surprised no one by capping the list with Gilead's ($GILD) Sovaldi.
The new hep C treatment has been sparking a nationwide debate over drug prices with its $84,000 therapy, which the business intelligence outfit assigns a modest $2.4 billion in consensus sales estimates for the year. And Anoro Ellipta, the new COPD drug from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Theravance ($THRX), comes in just behind Sovaldi with a forecast of $3 billion in forecasted sales through 2019.
Thomson Reuters also has high hopes for idelalisib. Gilead's drug, picked up in the company's $600 million deal for Calistoga, works by blocking overactive PI3K-delta signaling, cutting off a key contributor to cancer growth in B-cell leukemias and lymphomas. Those three drugs are all considered fairly safe blockbuster bets.
But there are some other late-stage drugs in the pipeline worth tracking, adds Thomson Reuters.
Eli Lilly ($LLY) also makes the list this year with two drugs: The GLP-1 therapy dulaglutide, which is likely to be late to the diabetes market but has the potential to play a leading role in the field, comes in among the top drugs to watch. And Lilly scores a two-fer with Cyramza (ramucirumab), it's stomach cancer drug now under regulatory review. Lilly has been watching drug sales plunge after its R&D operation failed at multiple late-stage studies. This year the company says it can deliver "several" new drug approvals. Investors might add the words "or else" to that remark.
Thomson Reuters also puts MannKind's ($MNKD) controversial inhaled insulin Afrezza on the list. Already rejected twice by the FDA, an expert FDA panel recently gave MannKind a lopsided vote in favor of an approval. But in the diabetes field, where patients like to stick with therapies they know can work, a late approval may take some time to generate major sales. And MannKind will need a major league partner to make that happen.
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