Teva’s accession to the exclusive group that is the Pharma Top 10 is further proof, according to IMS Health, that branded pharma needs to renounce its product-protected past and embrace the patient-led, specialty-focused future.
As the first non-western, non-innovative-core company to enter pharma’s global Top 10, according to IMS Health research, Teva’s rise to prominence is not only contributing to “changing the face” of this exalted group, but confirms that the sector as a whole is heading for a “more level playing field”.
Aside from Teva’s recent accession, the Top 10 appears outwardly to have changed very little in the last decade. But the megamergers and changes of strategy that we all know have taken place behind the scenes have failed to stem Big Pharma’s inexorable decline.
While the last 10 years have seen Abbott, AstraZeneca (AZ) and Roche all exit consumer health, and Pfizer, Novartis, Sanofi, Merck and Co., and AZ all enter biologics, Big Pharma has failed to increase its share of the $330-billion patent protected market, and still holds only around 40% of the industry. (In comparison, the top ten players in the mobile phone industry hold two thirds of that market.)
What’s more, of the four products to achieve billion-dollar sales in last three years — Victoza, Gilenya, Incivek, Prolia — only one (Gilenya) is from a Top 10 company (Novartis). And only one Top 10 company (Roche) has managed to secure a place in IMS’s list of the Top 10 fastest-growing pharma companies of the last ten years. (The Swiss drugmaker makes number 10; the top three spots are taken by Vertex, Actelion, and Reckitt Benckiser, respectively).
These changes confirm, explains Carolyn Gauntlett, Senior Consultant, Thought Leadership, IMS Health, that innovation is shifting towards specialty medicines and more ‘sub-blockbusters’ focused on specific patient segments. Most of the fastest-growing pharma companies have remained committed to one specialist-led area — for example, Actelion (cardiovascular), Celgene (oncology), and Gilead (HIV). Indeed, says Gauntlett, who was co-presenting an IMS webcast on Tuesday, “the more you launch, the less likely you are to be excellent”.
The findings may present a further erosion of the industry as we knew it, but according to Gauntlett’s co-presenter, IMS Health’s Sarah Rickwood, there is a positive takeaway. For pharma companies that can take heed of other industries and explore areas such as multiple revenue streams, flexible price offerings, and increased customer centricity, this new environment can offer “more opportunities and options to be a Top 10 player than ever before”, she says.
What is clear is that the face of Top 10 pharma — and the industry at large — is changing. We will start to see more companies with no pharma history making their mark on the sector, says Rickwood. (Samsung, for example, has stated its intention to be a player in biosimilars). And these companies will be ones that recognize the growing role of the patient not as an ‘optional extra’ but as a core element in the approach to commercialization and product development.
We can certainly expect to see more consumer-led and low-cost players like Teva climbing the pharma rankings. The Pharma Top 10, then, could look somewhat different by the end of the next decade.