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, and alone responsible for more than half of AbbVie's revenues. Its sales peaked in 2018 at $19.9bn, but patent expiry prompted a slight decline to (a still massive) $19.7bn for 2019. As a biologic product, Humira is hard for generic manufacturers to copy, and AbbVie has further protected its star drug with a succession of additional patents - a so-called "patent thicket" - that have maintained its dominance of the sector as well as its high price. Nevetheless, 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. AbbVie's own successor to Humira, Rinvoq, was approved by the FDA in 2019 but for now sales are still very small. 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 deals followed, culminating in the takeover of troubled rival Allergan for more than $60bn. That deal completed in May 2020. Pharmacyclics' haemophilia drug Imbruvica is currently AbbVie's next biggest product after Humira with sales of $4.7bn in 2019 - Johnson & Johnson has rights in most international markets - and AbbVie also has a portfolio of treatments for HCV and HIV led by Mavyret. However the latter is also declining, falling to $2.9bn for 2019. Other key products include pancreative enzyme treatment Creon in the US ($1.0bn) and hormone therapy Lupron ($887m). Sales of leukemia drug Venclexta more than doubled in 2019 to $521m, and another promising new drug is Orilissa for endometriosis pain. An important new launch in 2019 was Skyrizi for psoriasis and bowel disease, with sales expected to reach $3bn to $5bn annually. The acquisition of Allergan added Botox, Juvederm, Restasis and other drugs to AbbVie's portfolio. Allergan Aesthetics is now the name of the specialised division of Abbvie which manages these and other cosmetic treatments. Combined sales are around $1.8bn annually. Richard Gonzalez is chairman & CEO. Group revenues reached a new high in 2019 of $33.3bn, with net income of $7.9bn.
Capsule checked 4th January 2021
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Historical profile information for AbbVie
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.
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