Top 10 Biologic Drugs in the United States

These Drugs Are Changing the Way Illnesses Are Treated

Biologics are drugs made from complex molecules manufactured using living microorganisms, plants, or animal cells. Many are produced using recombinant DNA technology. They're sometimes referred to as biopharmaceuticals or biological drugs.

Biologics are changing the ways doctors treat common conditions that have plagued people for years. They've revolutionized the treatment of many serious and chronic illnesses and have nudged traditional small-molecule drugs out of the top sales slots. 

Rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers, and diabetes have the greatest numbers of dedicated biologic treatments.

Generic Biologics

While most drugs are chemicals synthesized from other chemicals, biologics are much more expensive due to their complex manufacturing process. Because of their high cost, there is a great demand for generic versions of biologic medications.

Several pharmaceutical companies are lobbying for the right to manufacture generic versions. However, because they are so difficult to manufacture, there are concerns about the ability to manufacture generics both safely and reliably.

They're not exactly generics, but in recent years, numerous biosimilars have come on the market, usually at a much lower cost than the original biologic they're based on.

Top 10 Biologics

The top 10 biologic drugs all have exceeded the monetary definition of a "blockbuster," meaning they've generated more than $1 billion in annual sales, according to 2017 sales data reported by drug manufacturers.



Woman rubbing hands
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The anti-inflammatory drug Humira (adalimumab) is not only the best-selling biologic, it's one of the best-selling drugs worldwide, regardless of class. 

Humira is approved for:

Manufacturer: AbbVie, an Abbott Laboratories spinoff

Global Sales in 2017: $18.4 billion

Generic name: Adalimumab

Launch date: 2002



Patient in hospital
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Rituxan (rituximab) was developed by IDEC Pharmaceuticals. It's currently co-marketed in the United States by Biogen Idec and Roche subsidiary Genentech.

Rituxan is approved for:

Manufacturer: Roche

Global Sales in 2017: $9.2 billion

Generic name: Rituximab

Launch date: 1997



Doctor examining woman's hands
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Enbrel (etanercept) was developed by researchers at Immunex. Today the drug is co-marketed in North America by Amgen and Pfizer, by Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Japan, and by Wyeth in the rest of the world.

Enbrel is approved for:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Plaque psoriasis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis

Manufacturer: Pfizer/Amgen

Global Sales in 2017: $7.9 billion

Generic name: Etanercept

Launch date: 1998



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Herceptin (trastuzumab) was developed by Genentech, now a Roche subsidiary, and UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Herceptin is approved for:

Manufacturer: Roche

Global Sales in 2017: $7.4 billion

Generic name: Trastuzumab

Launch date: 1998



Woman getting a mamogram
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When launched in 2004, Genentech's Avastin (bevacizumab) was one of the most expensive drugs on the market, with a $4,400 monthly price tag.

Avastin is approved for:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Hepatocellular cancer
  • Metastatic colorectal cancer 
  • Metastatic renal cell carcinoma
  • Epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer
  • Glioblastoma
  • Non-squamous non−small cell lung cancer 

Manufacturer: Roche

Global Sales in 2017: $7.1 billion

Generic name: Bevacizumab

Launch date: 2004



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Remicade (infliximab) was originally developed by Centocor Ortho Biotech, which is now Janssen Biotech, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.

Remicade is approved for:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Plaque psoriasis
  • Ulcerative colitis

Manufacturer: Johnson & Johnson/Merck & Co.

Global Sales in 2017: $7.1 billion

Generic name: Infliximab

Launch date: 1998



Mom helping son test blood sugar
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Lantus (insulin glargine injection) was developed at Sanofi-Aventis's biotechnology research center in Frankfurt-Höchst, Germany.

Lantus is approved for:

  • Diabetes

Manufacturer: Sanofi

Global Sales in 2017: $5.7 billion

Generic name: Insulin glargine [rDNA origin] injection

Launch date: 2000



Close up of chemotherapy drip bottle.
Mark Harmel / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) is manufactured by Amgen Pharmaceuticals.

Neulasta is approved for:

Manufacturer: Amgen

Global Sales in 2017: $4.7 billion

Generic name: Pegfilgrastim

Launch date: 2002



Nurse feeding patient
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In the U.S., Avonex (interferon beta-1α) is marketed in by Biogen Idec and by Merck under the brand name Rebif.

Gemany's Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB and CinnaGen Company cloned Interferon-beta-1α and since 2006 the drug has been sold as CinnoVex, a biosimilar, in Iran.

Avonex/Rebif is approved for:

Manufacturer: Biogen Idec

Global Sales in 2017: $2.1 billion

Generic name: Interferon-beta-1α

Launch date: 1996



Eye doctor and patient
Portra Images / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Developed by Genentech, the injectable drug Lucentis (ranibizumab) is marketed in the U.S. by Genentech and outside the U.S. by Novartis.

Lucentis is approved for:

Manufacturer: Roche, Novartis

Global Sales in 2017: $1.5 billion

Generic name: Ranibizumab

Launch date: 2006

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Humira (adalimumab injection) label.

  2. Food and Drug Administration. Rituxan (rituximab injection) label.

  3. Food and Drug Administration. Enbrel (etanercept) label.

  4. Food and Drug Administration. Herceptin (trastuzumab) label.

  5. Food and Drug Administration. Avastin (bevacizumab injection) label.

  6. Food and Drug Administration. Remicade (infliximab) label.

  7. Food and Drug Administration. Lantus (insulin glargine [rDNA origin] injection) label.

  8. Food and Drug Administration. Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) label.

  9. Food and Drug Administration. Avonex (interferon beta-1a injection) label.

  10. Food and Drug Administration. Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) label.