Abbott Laboratories’s anti-inflammatory blockbuster Humira will be the world’s best-selling drug by 2016, while company-wise Pfizer is set to remain at the top of the tree.

This is the view of researchers at EvaluatePharma, whose latest report claims that revenues from Humira (adalimumab) will rise 9% annually to hit $10.1 billion in 2016. Other observers have suggested that the top spot would be occupied by Roche’s cancer treatment Avastin ((bevacizumab), but the analysis notes that the drug “has experienced some clinical setbacks this year” in bids to expand the label. As such, EvaluatePharma says that 2016 sales will be in the region of $8.9 billion.

The other top ten places are made up by six other biotech products [Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept) and Prolia ((denosumab), Roche/Biogen Idec’s Rituxan (rituximab), the Swiss major’s Herceptin (trastuzumab), Johnson & Johnson/Merck & Co’s Remicade (infliximab) and Sanofi-Aventis’ Lantus (insulin glargine)], while the other two spots are given to conventional small molecule drugs, AstraZeneca’s Crestor (rosuvastatin) and GlaxoSmithKline’s Advair/Seretide (salmeterol and fluticasone), “which is proving incredibly resilient to generic challengers”.

The world’s current bestseller is Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor (atorvastatin), which will soon be hit by patent expries. However EvaluatePharma believes that the New York-based giant will still be the biggest company in terms of sales in 2016, although Merck & Co, thanks to its $41 billion merger with Schering-Plough last year, “will be close behind”.

A surprise in the top sales list is the entrance of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, “which will become an increasingly large pharma player as the industry’s patent cliff looms”, the report says. Over the next seven years, the Israeli firm will occupy the tenth slot, ahead of some more traditional big players such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Amgen.

Jonathan de Pass, EvaluatePharma’s chief executive, said of the report that "this is the first time this data has been available and will provide a valuable insight into the new competitive pharma landscape beyond the patent cliff”. He added that next seven years will see “huge growth in sales of complex biologics, driven in part by the premium price they can command and the industry’s productivity in getting these compounds to market”.