Pharmaceuticals are about to say goodbye to the goose that laid the golden eggs. Faced with this situation is the pharmaceutical Abbvie, owner of the drug Humira, which has held the title of best-selling drug in the world for years, only surpassed by Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in 2020. The drug’s patent will expire in the United States States this year and the company can no longer prevent biosimilars of its flagship product from appearing in its biggest market. Other giants such as Johnson & Johnson, Bayer or Novo Nordisk are on the same stage. In total, the loss of patents will mean a hole of 30,000 million dollars this year in the United States.
And the number will increase. The losses of exclusivity in the largest pharmaceutical market in the world, the United States, down to 141,000 million euros until 2027, figures not seen until now with the potential to generate an earthquake in the industry. From 2018 to 2022, the average annual loss from patent release was $10 billion; for the next six years, the average will rise to 28.2 billion dollars, according to data from the Iqvia Institute.
In Europe, the impact for the next five years -Iqvia analyzes the main markets (Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom)- will be 31,000 million dollars, a figure that represents more than tripling the 8,900 million dollars between 2018 and 2022.
The Abbvie blockbuster, which died in the first nine months of 2022 with a worldwide net income of 15,660 million dollars, already lost its exclusivity in Europe in 2019 and sales outside its local market have been declining, advancing the scenario that can be Find the company in your largest market.
From the company based in Illinois (United States) they clarified in the presentation of annual results that the group has a “solid base that will allow us to absorb the loss of exclusivity of Humira and return to solid top-line growth in 2025 and boost first-rate financial performance in the long term.”
Another sales success is Stelara, from Johnson & Johnson, which will lose the exclusivity in the United States of its patent for the composition of the matter in September. Stelara reported to J&J revenues of 9,723 million dollars, of which 6,388 million dollars correspond to the United States, that is, 65.7%.
One drug also expected to drop in sales is Japan’s Takeda’s Vyvanse, whose US patent expires this year. It is a stimulant drug to treat ADHD (also known as ADD). This drug reported revenue of 327,000 million yen in 2022 (2,295 million euros).
Few of the big pharmacies are left out of this fall in patents: Sanofi has Aubagio, with sales of 2,031 million euros; Roche has Actermra, whose patent has already expired and posted sales of 2.7 billion Swiss francs (2.734 million euros), and Jazz has Xyrem, with sales of 1.02 billion dollars.
Given the new scenario of generic growth that is coming to the market, companies are increasing their spending on research to find new patents. In the United States, although the percentage of spending will be lower, the absolute figure that will be invested between 2023 and 2027 (110,000 million dollars) will exceed the figures of the last five years by 28%. In Europe, the figure also rules out, up to 45,000 million dollars.
R&D in the industry has positioned itself as essential given the announced end of the so-called blockbuster model, based on massive products with a high sales capacity. Now, pharma has turned towards a more specialized model, with a higher commitment to technology, driven by increased competition and the arrival of new therapies.
Now, the search by pharmaceutical companies seems to be focused on smaller niches of patients and with a broader catalogue. This is stated in the McKinsey report The Future of Pharma Operations Strategy, which describes the industry as medicines with shorter life cycles and much more fragmented. In addition, he points out that the end of this model has triggered a 21% increase in the production of new drugs.
Another perspective that will boost investment in technology is the collaboration models between different players in the sector, adds McKinsey. As happened with the Covid-19 vaccines, the companies chose to partner to increase the innovation of their products. In fact, with the pandemic, the blockbuster once again dominated the market with investment earmarked for a single disease.