If there is one thing 2018 should be remembered for, it should be as the year of blockbuster drugs.
At least 12 new game changers hit the market, with combined forecasted earnings exceeding 20 billion by 2022. These include drugs representing new advances in diabetes and HIV and at least six fill gaps in the market for not-so-common conditions or cancer treatment.
People with type 2 diabetes gained two new treatment options with Ozempic (semaglutide), a once-weekly, non-insulin treatment and Steglatro (ertugliflozin), an oral sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor. Both help control blood sugar levels and should be used alongside diet and exercise.
Biktarvy, a single, once-daily combination treatment containing tenofovir alafenamide, emtricitabine, and bictegravir, further cements Gilead’s position in the HIV-1 market with sales expected to exceed three billion.
The approval of Hemlibra (emicizumab) to reduce bleeding episodes in people with hemophilia A, is notable as the first new class of treatment developed for hemophilia in more than two decades. Other rare condition approvals include Onpattro (patisiran) infusion for debilitating hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis, Takhzyro (lanadelumab-flyo) for hereditary angioedema, and Ultomiris (ravulizumab-cwvz) for paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, a debilitating ultra-rare blood disorder.
There was also good news for people with migraine with Amgen and Novartis bringing Aimovig (erenumab) to market, paving the way for a whole new realm of migraine preventives.
2018 saw the launch of the first FDA-approved cannabidiol-based drug, Epidiolex from GW Pharmaceuticals for two rare forms of childhood-onset epilepsy, Dravet syndrome
Erleada (apalutamide) received accelerated approval from the FDA for non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, the first drug to be approved in the US for this indication. Another new arrival worthy of mention in our roundup is
And, although approved in 2017, we can’t round up this roundup without mentioning Shingrix, the first new shingles vaccine in more than a decade. Demand for the vaccine has been unprecedented and with its efficacy rate of 97% far exceeding that of Zostavax, the only other FDA-approved shingles vaccine, it’s no wonder. Sales have already exceeded $895 million and the vaccine now constitutes 99% of the shingles vaccine market.