3 successful drug launches to watch this year
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted many industries, but it has not slowed the pace of new drug approvals. The FDA gave the green light to 59 new drugs last year, and 2021 is shaping up to be a big year as well.
If you haven’t had the time to go through them all on your own, don’t worry. We’ve already done the legwork to find the most important ones to watch this year. Read on to see why the new drugs of GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), and Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) made the list.
1. Cabenuva by GlaxoSmithKline
It took longer than expected, but the FDA recently made ViiV Healthcare’s Cabenuva the first monthly injection approved for the treatment of HIV. This is a long-acting injectable version of two currently available tablets, Edurant de Johnson & johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and Vocabria from ViiV Healthcare, which is a joint venture between Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), Shionogi and GlaxoSmithKline.
GlaxoSmithKline controls a majority of ViiV Healthcare and the successful launch of Cabenuva is an important part of GlaxoSmithKline’s growth strategy. Antiviral treatments can neutralize HIV, but the virus will eventually come back in force without constant vigilance. This makes dealing with this virus a lucrative business with stiff competition.
GlaxoSmithKline’s main HIV competitor, Gilead Sciences expects sales of Biktarvy, a once-daily HIV tablet launched in 2018, to reach $ 10 billion this year. Investors at GlaxoSmithKline and Gilead Sciences will want to keep both eyes on the Cabenuva launch to see if it can pull Biktarvy out of the top spot.
2. Gilead Sciences Trodelvy
Gilead Sciences currently has long-term treatment for HIV in clinical trials, but the company is eager to become a leader in oncology. To that end, the company spent $ 21 billion to acquire Immunomedics and its new breast cancer treatment, Trodelvy.
Gilead Sciences’ huge bet on Trodelvy raised many eyebrows, but there is a real chance that it will pay off for shareholders. Following the acquisition, we learned that Trodelvy reduced the risk of death by 52% compared to standard care for patients with triple negative breast cancer who had already relapsed after at least two previous lines of treatment.
Trodelvy is a first-class treatment that targets Trop-2, a protein often found on the surface of cancer cells and there’s a good chance it will work for a variety of cancer patients who don’t respond well to available therapies. If Gilead Sciences really has what it takes to expand beyond antiviral drugs and into the more complex field of oncology, we will quickly see Trodelvy become a leading treatment for triple negative breast cancer and other underserved populations.
3. Eli Lilly’s Retevmo
Improving the chances of patients’ long-term survival is the main driver of new cancer drug sales, but it also helps if your product can be considered an easy-to-swallow pill. Retevmo is a small molecule drug that Eli Lilly won when it bought Loxo Oncology for $ 8.0 billion in 2019.
In August, Retevmo obtained FDA approval for the treatment of a very limited group of lung cancer patients with tumors caused by rearranged mutations during transfection (RET). Since then, the FDA has expanded its addressable patient population to include people with thyroid cancer caused by the same mutations.
Retevmo’s expedited approvals are based on impressive response rates, but a successful launch depends on overall survival data that Eli Lilly has yet to provide. In 2020, the FDA approved a new drug similar to Retevmo called Gavreto from Collaborative Partners rock (OTC: RHHBY) and Model drugs (NASDAQ: BPMC), for the treatment of the same patients with lung cancer and thyroid cancer. So far, it looks like Gavreto has a slight safety edge, so Eli Lilly’s investors should keep their eyes peeled for Retevmo’s competitive survival results.
The new drugs on this list are important to the companies launching them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should be depleting and emptying your drug stocks if the sales numbers disappoint in the next few quarters. No matter what happens to these drug launches, remember that it will take more than one big business flop to sink one of these highly profitable pharmaceutical giants.
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