LONDON — Pfizer soon may lose its distinction of having the highest global sales of any drug company, according to life sciences industry analysis firm EvaluatePharma.
The next contender for the title is France's Sanofi, which EvaluatePharma said was expected to take the top spot next year and stay there through 2016.
The firm attributed the French drug maker's rise to its mergers and acquisitions activity, particularly its purchase earlier this year of U.S. biotech manufacturer Genzyme Corp. "The takeover of Genzyne, an aggressive cross-border move, revealed just how much the culture of Sanofi has changed in the last few years," EvaluatePharma CEO Jonathan de Pass said. "Coming just as Pfizer loses Lipitor, the acquisition should be enough to secure Sanofi the top spot for the next few years, our data suggest."
Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) is the top-selling drug in the world, with more than $7 billion in sales in the United States alone, according to IMS Health. But Indian drug maker Ranbaxy Labs is expected to launch a generic version of the drug later this month. Pfizer, long reliant on the blockbuster model of drug development, has sought to weather the effects of generic competition by increasing its focus on specialty drugs, as have other major drug makers like Merck & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Still, Merck, which EvaluatePharma currently ranked fourth in terms of sales, is expected to move down to the fifth and sixth places next year and through 2016, while Bristol is expected to move from 13th place to 16th next year and 17th in 2014 before moving up again to 13th place in 2016.