10 Best-Selling Cancer Drugs

Laura Joszt

In honor of the upcoming ASCO conference, here are the top 10 best-selling cancer drugs based on how much in U.S. sales they brought in last year.

Right now oncology is the main attraction, which makes sense considering ASCO is just two weeks away. But oncology drugs have always garnered a lot of attention because the diseases they treat are so scary for the patients, plus they can be quite costly.

But the good thing (for the pharmaceutical companies) is that these drugs aren’t facing generic competition like some other drugs have to. As a result, expensive and older treatments are contending with low-cost generics for sales, meaning they’re still bringing in a pretty penny for the company.

FiercePharma released a list of the top 10 best-selling cancer drugs based on how much they brought in U.S. sales over the last year.

10. Tarceva

2011 sales: $564.2 million

FDA approvals: Non-small cell lung cancer, 2004; pancreatic cancer, 2005; NSCLC maintenance therapy, 2010.

9. Xeloda

2011 sales: $647.6 million

FDA approvals: Metastatic colorectal cancer, 1998; metastatic breast cancer, 2002; adjuvant colon cancer therapy, 2005.

8. Velcade

2011 sales: $692.7 million

FDA approvals: Multiple myeloma, 2003; mantle cell lymphoma, 2006; first-line multiple myeloma, 2008.

7. Erbitux

2011 sales: $703.3 million

FDA approvals: EGFR-positive colorectal cancer, 2004; second line in head and neck cancer, 2006; first line in recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer, 2011.

6. Alimta

2011 sales: $1.04 billion

FDA approvals: Malignant pleural mesothelioma, 2004; non-small cell lung cancer, 2008; NSCLC maintenance therapy, 2009.

5. Eloxatin

2011 sales: $1.2 billion

FDA approvals: Colorectal cancer, 2002; adjuvant use in colorectal cancer, 2004; new formulation, 2005.

4. Gleevec

2011 sales: $1.51 billion

FDA approvals: Chronic myelogenous leukemia, 2011; gastrointestinal stromal tumors, 2002; Philadelphia-chromosome positive acute lymphocytic leukemia, 2006; dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, 2006; certain myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative diseases, 2006; hypereosinophilic syndrome/chronic eosinophilic leukemia, 2006; aggressive systemic mastocytosis, 2006; adjuvant GIST treatment, 2012.

3. Herceptin

2011 sales: $1.66 billion

FDA approvals: Metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer, 1998; adjuvant in early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer, 2006; additional adjuvant approvals, 2008; HER2-positive gastric or gastroesophageal junction cancer.

2. Avastin

2011 sales: $2.66 billion

FDA approvals: Metastatic colorectal cancer, 2004; non-small cell lung cancer, 2006; breast cancer, 2008 (revoked in 2011); kidney cancer, 2009; brain cancer, 2009.

1. Rituxan

2011 sales: $3 billion

FDA approvals: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 1997; rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, 2006; rheumatoid arthritis disease progression, 2008; chronic lymphocytic leukemia, 2010; Wegener's granulomatosis and microscopic polyangiitis, 2011.

To read more about the individual drugs on this list, read the report.

Company: GenentechCompany: GenentechCompany: Millennium Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Takeda Pharmaceutical Industries, in partnership with Johnson & JohnsonCompany: Eli Lilly, in partnership with Bristol-Myers SquibbCompany: Eli LillyCompany: SanofiCompany: NovartisCompany: GenentechCompany: GenentechCompany: Genentech