A robust sales year for three of Novartis' medications allowed the firm to pass reeling Pfizer for the top spot on Modern Healthcare's annual list of largest publicly traded pharmaceutical companies.
Pfizer, its sales still tumbling from the loss of patent protection on its blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, saw its sales decline to $51.6 billion last year, down 5.6% from 2012. Lipitor sales fell to $2.3 billion in 2013, down 41% from $3.9 billion in 2012 and down 76% $9.6 billion in 2011.
But at Novartis, Galvus, a treatment for Type 2 diabetes, reached $1.2 billion in sales in 2013, said Eric Althoff, Novartis' head of global media relations. He also credited Afinitor, a cancer drug, and Gilenya, a treatment for multiple sclerosis. Both grew by 60% last year. Overall, Novartis' net sales grew 2.3% to $57.9 billion, up from $56.6 billion in 2012.