Report: Novartis lead drug approvals pack for past five years

While the Swiss giant leads number of approvals, Roche, Lilly and AbbVie leads at generating value.



According to a report by Evaluate Vantage, 11 of the big pharma have brought 76 novel drugs to market. Novartis, leads the pack with 12 FDA approvals over that period. Its list of successful candidates include gene therapy Zolgensma and the first CAR-T therapy approved, Kymriah. Roche and Merck & Co share the second position, with nine approvals each. Eli Lilly had eight to its name with Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline toe-to-toe with seven each. French pharma giant Sanofi had six with AbbVie, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson clocking five each. At the bottom of the pack is Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), which has only had three FDA approvals to its name. Interestingly, BMS’s approvals all came from its $74 billion Celgene acquisition concluded back in 2019.


Though the number of approvals is one of the key metrics, another is how effective pharma companies are at commercializing their products post-approval. Through this lens, the picture looks a bit different, with Roche, Eli Lilly and AbbVie seemingly leading the pack. Roche generated nearly $3 billion from its cancer drug Tecentriq last year. Though much lower, Lilly raked in about $913 million for its cancer drug Verzenio, while AbbVie managed to generate nearly $1.6 billion and $731 million from Skyrizi and Rinvoq, respectively. According to Evaluate Vantage, the numbers included in the report are only for the Novel Molecular Entities owned by the respective companies at time of approval. Those acquired after the approval was granted were not included.