With 2011 sales of approximately $54.1 billion, Pfizer currently holds the crown as the world’s largest drugmaker, but next year may see the pharma giant usurped from its throne by Sanofi and Novartis, who will claim pole and second position respectively in the global pharmaceutical rankings. Pfizer, meanwhile, will drop to third place, and is likely to remain there for the foreseeable future, according to analysis firm EvaluatePharma.
EvaluatePharma expects Pfizer’s prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) sales to drop to $49.8 billion in 2012, mainly due to the patent expiry on Lipitor, the blockbuster cholesterol-lowering statin that holds the record for the world’s biggest selling medicine. Meanwhile, Sanofi’s sales will grow from $47.9 billion in 2011 (which ranked it as third in terms of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies) to $51.6 billion in 2012. The French company has been moving up the rankings for some time, boosted by a decade of mergers, which began in 1990 with the deal between Sanofi and Synthelabo and culminated with the $20 billion acquisition of Genzyme in February this year.
“The takeover of Genzyme this year was an aggressive cross-border move that revealed just how much the culture of Sanofi has changed in the last few years,” explains the EvaluatePharma analysis. “The traditionally inward looking French drug maker has, like many of its peers, taken big strides to acquire and license innovation from beyond its own labs in an attempt to revive flagging R&D productivity.”
The analysis adds that sales of Genzyme’s enzyme replacement therapies should be enough to keep the crown on Sanofi’s head until at least 2016, with the blockbuster products of Cerezyme and Myozyme helping to offset revenue of Plavix, which will lose US patent protection next year, as well as the ongoing generic erosion of Lovenox and Taxotere.
Pfizer, on the other hand, will fall further behind in terms of sales. By 2016, Sanofi is expected to have sales of $58.4 billion while Pfizer will scrape $51.9 billion, representing a minute 1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over 2011–2016. Sanofi, on the other hand, will have a CAGR of 4%. Pfizer will also face competition from GlaxoSmithKline and Roche. By 2016, GlaxoSmithKline is expected to rank fourth with sales of $50.9 billion (compared with ranking fifth in 2011 with sales of $39.3 billion) while Roche will come in fifth with $49 billion (up from sixth in 2011 with $39.1 billion).
As for Novartis, the company will see strong growth from Gilenya and Tasigna over the next few years and will also be bolstered by its $48-billion acquisition of eyecare company Alcon, which will boost sales in areas outside of prescription and OTC drugs. Novartis was ranked second in 2011 with sales of $49.5 billion and is predicted to maintain this ranking at least until 2016, when it is expected to have sales of $54.8 billion.
Meanwhile, there will also be some shuffling in the league table among the other drugmakers too. Merck, currently ranked fourth, will drop to sixth place by 2016, and Eli Lilly, tenth, will fall to fifteenth. The analysis also highlights generics giant Teva, which is expected to rise from twelfth position in 2011 to ninth in 2016 as it grows at a CAGR of 7%. Novo Nordisk will also experience a high growth rate—currently ranked in seventeenth place, the Danish diabetes specialist will climb up to fourteenth place by 2016 with a CAGR of 9%.