AbbVie : advertising & marketing assignments

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AbbVie is the pharmaceutical business spun out of Abbott Laboratories as a separate company at the beginning of 2013. Its key product is the arthritis drug Humira, currently the world's top-selling pharmaceutical, responsible for more than 60% of AbbVie's revenues in 2018. Its sales hit a new high of $19.9bn that year, and are still rising in the US, despite patent expiry. Internationally, though, Humira's sales began to decline sharply at the end of 2018 for the first time. As a biologic product, it is hard for generic manufacturers to copy, but some rivals have begun to develop "biosimilars" at significantly lower prices. The first of these were launched in Europe in late 2018, prompting an immediate decline in Humira's sales. That process is expected to continue during 2019, with the result that Humira's total sales for the year will plateau or even fall. A successor to Humira, Rinvoq, was approved by the FDA in 2019. The long-expected decline of Humira has prompted AbbVie to seek bolt-on acquisitions to bolster its pipeline and reduce its dependency on its lead product. It made a series of offers to acquire UK-based Shire in 2014 without success. Instead the group snapped up US developer Pharmacyclics in 2015 for $21bn. Other smaller deals have followed. In 2019, the group announced plans to acquire troubled rival Allergan for more than $60bn. Pharmacyclics' haemophilia drug Imbruvica is currently AbbVie's next biggest product after Humira with sales of $3.6bn in 2018, and AbbVie has a portfolio of treatments for HCV and HIV led by Mavyret, sales of which soared to $3.4bn in 2018. Other key products include pancreative enzyme treatment Creon ($928m) and hormone therapy Lupron ($892m). A promising new drug is Orilissa for endometriosis pain, approved in 2018 and expected to reach blockbuster status in 2019. Separately, AbbVie is one of several companies fighting multiple lawsuits over side-effects alleged to result from use of testosterone products, in AbbVie's case AndroGel. Richard Gonzalez is chairman & CEO. Group revenues reached a record high in 2018 of $32.7bn, while net income was almost $5.7bn. However, the final quarter swung to a loss on a write-off against another acquired business, Stemcentrx, whose products performed poorly in clinical tests. An important new launch in 2019 was Skyrizi for psoriasis and bowel disease, with sales expected to reach $3bn to $5bn annually.

Capsule checked 28th January 2019

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Daily Update 25th Jun 2019: Abbvie announced its biggest acquisition to-date with a proposal to acquire hard-pressed rival Allergan for around $63bn, a 45% premium to the target company's undisturbed stock price (though well below the $100bn it was worth four years ago). Combined sales for the merged group would be $48bn. The deal would give Abbvie a dominant presence in the cosmetic enhancement and opthalmology markets.

Adbrands Weekly Update 24th May 2018: Trade source Fierce Pharma has compiled an interesting table of the top drugs sold in the US over the past 25 years, using cumulative sales figures. It passed its peak several years ago now, but Pfizer's cholesterol drug Lipitor is still the clear leader with total sales to-date of almost $95bn. It could soon be toppled, though, by AbbVie's Humira, a treatment for auto-immune conditions. Sales are already almost $76bn, and Humira is expected to become the first drug ever to top $20bn in sales in a single year before its patent expires in 2023. In third place for now is Nexium, from AstraZeneca, for acid reflux and ulcers. It too is past its peak, but cumulative sales currently stand at over $72bn. GSK's Advair and Amgen's Enbrel rounded out the top five at $69bn and $68bn respectively. (See full feature here).

Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Feb 2018: Pharma group Abbvie reported continuing soaring growth for its powerhouse arthritis drug Humira, despite the end of patent protection in the US in 2016. As a biologic Humira is almost impossible to copy, so sales are likely to continue rising until the introduction of approved generics in 2022. It is already the top-selling pharmaceutical product worldwide, but sales rose by another 15% in 2017 to a staggering $18.4bn, overtaking the annual record of $13.9bn set by Harvoni in 2015 (though it has a way to go to beat Lipitor's lifetime total of almost $150bn). Humira now alone accounts for almost two-thirds of Abbvie's annual revenues of $28.2bn last year. The group's #2 product is oncology drug Imbruvica, which it shares with Johnson & Johnson. Abbvie's revenues from that treatment jumped by over 40% to $2.57bn.

Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Jun 2017: AbbVie is the first of several drug companies to face court proceedings over its testosterone products. Six companies altogether are the target of a class action suit brought by more than 4,000 men alleging cardiovascular problems caused by rollercoaster-boosting products. AbbVie's former blockbuster Androgel is approved for the treatment of the recognised condition hypergonadism, in which hormone levels drop precipitously causing series health risks. However, the lawsuit accuses AbbVie of positioning Androgel more "as a lifestyle drug meant to make men feel younger and increase libido", in its marketing, thereby boosting its appeal to otherwise healthy men not suffering from that condition. AbbVie denies the charges, and says its marketing adhered to FDA guidelines. Eli Lilly, Allergan and Endo Pharmaceuticals are among the other companies facing similar charges over testosterone products.

Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jan 2017: Pharmaceutical shares also slipped into the red following President-elect Trump's stormy first press conference. Among multiple other topics he touched upon, Trump promised to devote special attention to Big Pharma, not least the pricing of new drugs, and where they are made. He attacked drug companies for making their products outside the US to save costs, while also "getting away with murder" on pricing. "We're the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don't bid properly... Pharma has a lot of lobbies, lobbyists and a lot of power. There is very little bidding on drugs... We’re going to start bidding and we are going to save billions of dollars over a period of time." All the major drug companies suffered a slump in valuations following Trump's remarks, averaging around 3.5% across the board. Worst hit were Bristol-Myers Squibb, down over 5%, and Abbvie over 4%. Pfizer, Amgen, Eli Lilly and Gilead fell more than 2% each.

Adbrands Weekly Update 7th April 2016: Figures from Kantar reveal that US pharmaceutical advertising jumped by 19% in 2015 to $5.4bn, overturning a steady decline over the past decade. That figure matches the previous high, set in 2006. Top spender was AbbVie's Humira with a media outlay estimated at a staggering $357m, a huge year-on-year increase ahead of looming patent expiry. There was a similar last gasp for Pfizer's Lyrica, which loses patent protection in 2018. It spent $328m. Pfizer and BMS's Eliquis came 3rd at $249m ahead of Lilly's Cialis with $222m. Pfizer's Xeljanz rounded out the top five at $183m.

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