Seven $1 billion-plus drugs seen reaching market in 2016

Pharmaceutical tablets and capsules in foil strips are arranged on a table, in this file photo illustration shot in Ljubljana on September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic/Files (Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) - Drug companies are likely to launch seven "blockbuster" drugs in 2016, each with $1 billion-plus annual sales potential, led by new treatments for liver disease and HIV, according to a Thomson Reuters analysis. The assessment means the pharmaceuticals industry is on track for another productive year, although not as good as 2015, which saw the arrival of 11 new blockbusters. The two top hits of 2016 are tipped to be Intercept Pharmaceuticals' chronic liver disease drug obeticholic acid, with a consensus sales forecast of $2.6 billion in 2020, and Gilead Sciences' new fixed dose HIV drug emtricitabine plus tenofovir alafenamide, on $2.0 billion. Other products expected to launch this year with forecast sales above $1 billion in 2020 include a new hepatitis C drug from Merck and a leukemia medicine from AbbVie , according to the annual "Drugs to Watch" report. Two keenly awaited Roche drugs, each with forecast sales of around $3 billion, are not on list because it is unclear if atezolizumab for cancer and ocrelizumab for multiple sclerosis will be commercially available this year or next. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)