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5 Big Pharma Stocks With the Best Drug Pipelines

Big pharma companies can't rest on their laurels. Continual research and development is critical to ensure long-term success. Some of that R&D pays off more than others, though.

Market research firm EvaluatePharma recently released its report looking at the state of the biopharmaceutical industry five years from now. One key area the firm researched was the potential value creation from pipeline products between now and 2022. Here's why Roche (NASDAQOTH: RHHBY), AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN), AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) ranked at the top.

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1. Roche

Roche's pipeline is projected to generate sales totaling $24.5 billion over the next five years. Two potential candidates should be the Swiss drugmaker's biggest winners -- emicizumab and lampalizumab.

Emicizumab is currently being evaluated in several late-stage studies for treating hemophilia A. EvaluatePharma thinks the drug could generate $1.6 billion in sales in 2022 if approved. Lampalizumab is also part of multiple phase 3 studies. The drug targets treatment of geographic atrophy associated with age-related macular degeneration. Lampalizumab could make over $900 million in 2022, according to EvaluatePharma.

Overall, Roche's pipeline includes over 35 programs in late-stage development for which the company expects to file for regulatory approval in the next few years. Several of these are for additional indications of already-approved drugs such as Kadcyla, Perjeta, and Tecentriq.

2. AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca looks to have the second-most valuable near-term pipeline. EvaluatePharma estimates that the British drugmaker could make cumulative sales of $21 billion between now and 2022.

Imfinzi recently won accelerated approval from the FDA as a second-line treatment for advanced bladder cancer. AstraZeneca is also evaluating the drug for other cancer indications and as part of combination therapies. EvaluatePharma projects the drug could generate total sales of more than $41 billion over the next five years.

Several late-stage studies are in progress with Imfinzi and another potentially big winner for AstraZeneca --  tremelimumab. EvaluatePharma thinks tremelimumab could be knocking on the door of blockbuster sales by 2022.

3. AbbVie

AbbVie's pipeline takes the third spot, with EvaluatePharma projecting total sales of $20.4 billion between now and 2022. Three candidates stand out in particular for AbbVie: elagolix, Rova-T, and ABT-494.

Image source: Getty Images.

Elagolix is being evaluated in late-stage studies for treating endometriosis and uterine fibroids. EvaluatePharma estimates the drug will rake in close to $1.5 billion in 2022. Rova-T is in late-stage studies as a first-line treatment for small cell lung cancer. The drug could also make close to $1.5 billion in 2022. ABT-494 (also known as upadacitinib) is being evaluated for treating multiple autoimmune diseases. It could generate sales of $1.2 billion in 2022.

AbbVie also has several other promising pipeline candidates. Autoimmune-=disease drug risankizumab and cancer drug veliparib look especially promising. 

4. Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences ranks No. 4 for its pipeline's value-creation potential. EvaluatePharma thinks the biotech's pipeline could produce cumulative sales of $19.1 billion over the next five years.

The biggest star for Gilead is its bictegravir/F/TAF combination treatment for HIV. Gilead submitted the combo for U.S. approval in June and plans to submit for approval in Europe in the next few months. EvaluatePharma estimates that this HIV therapy could make $4.3 billion in 2022 if approved.

A couple of other candidates in Gilead's pipeline could also make plenty of money in the relatively near term. EvaluatePharma projects that the sofosbuvir/velpatasvir/voxilaprevir combination for hepatitis C should make more than $1.4 billion in 2022, while Gilead's autoimmune-disease drug filgotinib could $227 million in 2022.

5. Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson rounds out the top five big pharma pipelines. J&J's pipeline is expected to generate total sales of $14.9 billion between now and 2022. 

Two of the healthcare giant's pipeline candidates particularly stand out. J&J awaits approval for guselkumab in treating psoriasis. If approved, the drug could make nearly $1.6 billion in 2022. Apalutamide is being evaluated in several late-stage studies for treating prostate cancer. EvaluatePharma thinks the drug could pull in over $1.6 billion in 2022.

Several of J&J's pipeline candidates are evaluating already-approved drugs for additional indications. Darzalex, which first won approval as a third-line treatment for multiple myeloma in 2016, could be one of the biggest winners. Assuming the drug gains approval for additional indications, Darzalex could be one of the top-selling drugs in the world in 2022, with estimated sales that year of $5.8 billion.

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Keith Speights owns shares of AbbVie and Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Gilead Sciences and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has the following options: short August 2017 $75 calls on Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.