5 Blockbuster Drugs of 2016 & the Companies Behind Them

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Before tapping into some of last year’s blockbuster drugs, let’s first remember or find out what the first blockbuster treatment was. Its name was Tagamet and it was developed by Smith, Kline and French (now part of GlaxoSmithKline). The drug hit the market in 1976 and it treated ulcers and gastrointestinal problems. During its 17 years of patent protection, the drug generated USD 14 billion. That may not seem a large sum this year but back in the days Tagamet’s revenues were pretty impressive.

Coming back to 2016, these are a few of the blockbuster drugs that made headlines last year:


Tenofovir alafenamide and emtricitabine and rilpivirine (R/F/TAF)

Developed by Gilead Sciences and Janssen R&D, R/F/TAF is used for HIV-1 infection. Gilead’s TAF-based combination therapy in partnership with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit is set to improve renal and bone mineral density measurements, as well as longevity of HIV patients. The increased numbers of those eligible for antiretroviral drugs translates into a large market for the two new TAF-based drugs. The sales forecast for 2020 is USD 1.57 billion.


Merck & Co’s MK-5172

MK-5172, otherwise known as Grazoprevir, is a drug developed by Merck and approved for the treatment of hepatitis C. It completed Phase III trials used in combination with the NS5A replication complex inhibitor elbasvir under the trade name Zepatier.

On the market for hepatitis C treatments, Merck’s drug goes up against Gilead’s Harvoni and Abbvie’s Viekira Pak. MK-5172’s sales forecast for 2020 is USD 1.54 billion.


ACADIA Pharmaceuticals’ Nuplazid

In April 2016, Pimavanserin (Nuplazid, Acadia Pharmaceuticals) received FDA approval for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease psychosis (hallucinations and delusions). The FDA named Pimavanserin a breakthrough therapy for this condition, being the first medication to receive approval for this indication. The drug works by targeting 5-HT2A receptors that are believed to play an important part in Parkinson’s disease psychosis. The FDA approval was based on data from a phase 3 Study-020 and other studies that add up to the largest research program in Parkinson’s disease psychosis. Nuplazid’s sales forecast for 2020 is USD 1.41 billion.


Nippon Shinyaku & Actelion’s Uptravi (selexipag)

Uptravi (selexipag) was originally discovered and synthesized by Nippon Shinyaku for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).  Uptravi was approved by the health authorities in the US and Europe, based on clinical data of the phase 3 study (GRIPHON study), conducted by Actelion, Nippon Shinyaku’s global partner. The drug entered the market in the first week of January 2016 and its sales forecast for 2020 is already USD 1.27 billion.


Genentech’s Atezolizumab (Tecentriq)

Tecentriq is the first in its class of drugs, PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors, approved to treat the most common type of bladder cancer, otherwise knows as urothelial carcinoma. In May 2016, The FDA approved Tecentriq for treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma whose condition showed no improvement during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy. By 2020, Tecentriq could hit USD 2.5 billion in sales.

Some experts say that the age of blockbuster drugs is coming to an end. Among the reasons stated are the new regulatory and pricing models but also the fact that medications have got better and better so new drugs don’t just have to be effective, they have to be superior to what already exists on the market. That may trigger a change in business models and strategies for pharma companies in 2017 and beyond.


Congress Bookers provides a whole range of services needed to organize a group for a medical congress. On our website, you will find a full list of hotel allotments for the most important medical congresses in 2017, regardless of their location. The biggest congresses this year are:

January’s Top Pharma News & Developments

These are last month’s pharma news and developments brought to you by Congress Bookers, a reliable accommodation partner for lead pharma companies worldwide.


Johnson & Johnson to acquire Actelion for USD 30 billion


Johnson & Johnson is set to acquire Swiss biotech company Actelion. The deal is valued at USD 30 billion and will give J&J access to Actelion’s research and development pipeline, as well as medicines for rare diseases.

Under the agreement, Actelion will draw out its research and development unit into a standalone company dubbed R&D NewCo, based in Switzerland, and led by Actelion founder and CEO Jean-Paul Clozel.

J&J will initially hold a 16% stake in R&D NewCo, with rights to an additional 16%.


Sanofi, MSD ended vaccines JV


Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi, has ended its vaccines joint venture with MSD, a collaboration that spanned more than 20 years.

The move was first announced in March 2016 and the reason was that both companies wanted to pursue their “distinct growth strategies.”

Throughout its existence, Sanofi Pasteur MSD launched several vaccines onto the European market such as Gardasil and Zostavax.


Bristol-Myers Squibb entered clinical collaboration with Janssen


Global biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb has entered a clinical research collaboration with US-based biotechnology company Janssen Biotech.

The aim of the collaboration is to analyse the combination of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Immuno-Oncology (I-O) agent Opdivo and Janssen’s CD38-directed cytolytic antibody Darzalex in Phase 1b/2 clinical studies in multiple myeloma and solid tumors.

In July 2016, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Janssen signed a clinical research collaboration to evaluate Opdivo and Live Attenuated Double-Deleted (LADD) Listerial monocytogenes cancer immunotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.


Merck teamed up with Palantir for faster drug discovery


German multinational pharma company Merck has teamed up with US-based data and analysis software company Palantir to enhance drug discovery and development.

In the beginning, the two companies will partner on three of Merck’s business sectors: healthcare, life sciences, and performance materials.

The exact terms of the deal haven’t yet been disclosed.


Novo Nordisk partnered Glooko to develop digital health solutions for patients with diabetes


Health platform for diabetes management Glooko has teamed up with Danish multinational pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to develop and brand digital health solutions for people with diabetes.

Under the agreement, the companies are set to deliver personalised, digital services to support people with diabetes in what concerns treatment adherence and blood glucose management. The partnership will also make it easier for healthcare professionals to manage patients by leveraging data reporting.

Novo Nordisk’s Digital Health Platform was developed with IBM Watson Health and it aims to improve treatment outcomes.


Novartis in USD 1.6 bln deal with Ionis Pharmaceuticals


Novartis has entered an agreement with US-based biopharmaceutical company Ionis Pharmaceuticals.

Under the deal, Novartis will pay up to USD 1.6 billion to Ionis and its unit Akcea Therapeutics for the rights to two cardiovascular drugs that aim to lower the level of cholesterol-carrying proteins in the blood, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, Novartis will invest USD 50 million in either Ionis or Akcea within the first 18 months, as well as payments worth up to USD 1.4 billion if the drugs turn out  successful.


Congress Bookers provides a whole range of services needed to organize a group for a medical congress. On our website, you will find a full list of hotel allotments for the most important medical congresses in 2017, regardless of their location. The biggest congresses next year are: