AbbVie is the pharmaceutical business spun out of Abbott Laboratories as a separate company at the beginning of 2013. Key products include the arthritis drug Humira, currently the world's top-selling pharmaceutical drug, and responsible for more than 60% of the group's revenues in 2016. Although AbbVie has a collection of smaller or developing products it remains vulnerable to the impact of patent expiry of Humira in the US after 2016. As a biologic product, it is hard for generic manufacturers to copy, but that threat has prompted Abbvie to begin seeking smaller bolt-on acquisitions. It made a series of offers to acquire UK-based Shire in 2014 but these were later abandoned. Instead the group snapped up US developer Pharmacyclics in 2015 for $21bn. Other deals have followed.
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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.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Jun 2015: Nielsen released figures for the most advertised pharmaceutical brands of 2014. Combined drug spending soared to $4.5bn, the highest level since the 2008/09 recession, and just the top ten spenders alone accounted for around 40% of that sum, or $1.8bn. Eli Lilly's Cialis toppled last year's leader AbbVie's Humira to take the top spot with spend of almost $249m. Erectile dysfunction rival Viagra, from Pfizer, was the #4 spender at $211m. Pfizer's Lyrica for nerve pain moved up to #2 while Eliquis, a blood thinner joint venture with BMS was #3 at $219m. Humira was still among the top five at $203m. Five other drugs spent between $100m and $200m during the year.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Oct 2014: With tax inversion loopholes closing fast on both sides of the Atlantic, US pharma group AbbVie has abandoned its attempt to reverse into Ireland-based Shire, advising its own shareholders to vote against the deal. With a value of around $54bn, that would have been the biggest ever takeover of a European company by a US predator. Only two weeks ago AbbVie's CEO wrote to Shire's employees telling them how much he was looking forward to having them as part of the AbbVie family, but recent fast-tracked changes to US tax laws now make the deal unviable. The situation is likely to get messy, with AbbVie on the line for a $1.6bn break fee, Shire deeply unhappy about the proposed pull-out, and several of its hedge fund shareholders - who would make big losses on abandonment - threatening lawsuits.
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