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Humira, the blockbuster anti-inflammatory drug that is routinely blasted on TV commercials, netted $13.6 billion in gross U.S. sales last year — the most of any brand-name prescription drug. The 20 top-selling drugs generated more than $98 billion in gross U.S. sales in 2016, or about $20 billion more than the U.S. Department of Transportation's budget from last year.

Expand chart
Data: QuintilesIMS Institute; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

The bottom line: The biggest drug sellers, which are heavily advertised on TV, treat conditions that affect millions of Americans. But the growth in pharmaceutical spending continues to be well above inflation, putting many people in a bind when they pick up their medicine at the pharmacy.

The data: QuintilesIMS, a pharmaceutical research firm, collected the data in an annual report. The totals are gross figures, so they do not factor in rebates and discounts that are negotiated with insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, nor do they include coupons and promotions.

Rebates between drug manufacturers and middlemen are not public information. But here's some context: Humira netted $13.6 billion in gross U.S. revenue. AbbVie, the company that makes Humira, reported $10.4 billion in net U.S. sales for the drug in its audited financials. That indicates rebates and discounts for Humira could have been around 25%.

  • AbbVie told analysts at Leerink Partners that peak global revenue for the drug will hit $20 billion before biosimilar versions hit the market in 2022 and eat into sales. The company also believes the Trump administration won't do anything to affect drug pricing decisions.
  • Hepatitis C drug Harvoni has busted onto the scene. The drug, made by Gilead Sciences, brought in $10 billion of gross sales in 2016 and has sparked debate over how much a drug should cost if it cures a disease.
  • The drug with the fifth-highest sales was Remicade, made by Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer is suing Johnson & Johnson, alleging the company has blocked Pfizer's cheaper biosimilar version of Remicade from penetrating the market.

Go deeper

California wildfire explodes in size, destroys historic town

Battalion Chief Sergio Mora looks on as the Dixie fire burns through downtown Greenville, Calif. on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo: Josh EdelsonAFP via Getty Images

The small Sierra town of Greenville, California, was heavily damaged on Wednesday night into early Thursday as the Dixie Fire surged northward amid high winds, extremely dry air and hot temperatures.

The latest: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, continued to threaten communities in Plumas County into Thursday night, as more mandatory evacuation orders were issued in the region.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Top labor leader Richard Trumka dies unexpectedly at 72

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who led the largest federation of unions in the country for over a decade, has died at 72.

The big picture: Trumka began working as a coal miner in 1968 and would go on to dedicate his life to the labor movement, including as president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO beginning in 2009.

Biden signs bill awarding Congressional Gold Medals to officers who responded to Jan. 6 attack

President Biden, joined by Vice President Harris, lawmakers and members of law enforcement and their families, signs legislation to award Congressional Gold Medals to law enforcement in the Rose Garden. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Biden signed legislation awarding Congressional Gold Medals to the law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Why it matters: The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress' "highest expression of national appreciation," notes the New York Times.

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