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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

White House nominates Rick Spinrad as NOAA leader

In this NOAA GOES-East satellite handout image, Hurricane Dorian, a Cat. 4 storm, moves slowly past Grand Bahama Island on September 2, 2019. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)

The White House on Thursday evening nominated Rick Spinrad, an oceanographer at Oregon State University, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Why it matters: Filling the NOAA slot would complete the Biden administration's leadership on the climate and environment team. The agency, located within the Commerce Department, houses the National Weather Service and conducts much of the nation's climate science research.

3 hours ago - World

Israeli officials will object to restoration of Iran deal in D.C. visit

Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the delegation traveling to Washington, D.C. next week for strategic talks on Iran to stress their objection to a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal and to refuse to discuss its contents, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: That position is similar to the one Israel took in the year before the 2015 nuclear deal was announced, which led to a rift between the Israeli government and the Obama administration. History could now repeat itself.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases aren't budging — even after vaccinations doubled— Health care workers feel stress, burnout more than a year into the pandemic — Handful of "breakthrough" COVID cases occurred in nursing homes, CDC says.
  2. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson's vaccine production problems look even bigger — All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine.
  3. Political: Watchdog says agency infighting increased health and safety risks at start of pandemic.
  4. World: EU regulator: Benefits of J&J vaccine outweigh risk of rare blood clots.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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