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 65% of AbbVie's revenues in 2017. Humira's sales hit a new high of $18.4bn that year (out of a group total of $28.2bn), and are expected to top $20bn by 2020, despite patent expiry. 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 to bolster its pipeline. 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. Its haeophilia drug Imbruvica is currently AbbVie's next biggest product with sales of $2.6bn in 2017. Other smaller deals have followed. No other drugs in the portfolio topped $1bn in 2017, but AbbVie has a portfolio of treatments for HCV and HIV led by Viekira, combined sales from which were $1.3bn. 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 for 2017 were $28.2bn.

Capsule checked 12th September 2018

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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

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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