- AbbVie tried to quell investor worries on Friday over the threat Amgen's biosimilar Amjevita poses for megahit Humira (adalimumab), stating in an earnings call that the company expects U.S. sales of its anti-inflammatory drug to increase 20% again in the next quarter.
- Company executives highlighted that Pfizer and Celltrion's Inflectra and Novartis's Enbrel had only modest effects on European sales of Humira. AbbVie doesn't expect to see biosimilar competition in the U.S. anytime soon, though, as it has Amgen stuck in court over claims of patent infringement. Yet, Inflectra should enter the market this month.
- The Chicago-based biopharma also debuted new earnings estimates for 2017. It projects operation growth in the low-double-digits, and a 13% to 15% increase in earnings per share spurred largely by R&D advances in immunology and oncology.
Humira remained the hot topic throughout the company's October 28 call, and understandably so. The drug is AbbVie's top seller, locking down more than $4 billion in worldwide sales during the third quarter. Humira, along with oncology drug Imbruvica, which brought in more than $500 million globally, helped drive operational sales growth of 8%.
And going forward, AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez said the company was confident the drug would withstand biosimilar headwinds.
"Despite increasing competition from new classes of drugs and indirect biosimilar competition in international markets, Humira continues to demonstrate exceptional performance and durability across the three major market segments," which include rheumatology, dermatology and gastroenterology, Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez also disclosed that AbbVie has completed formulary negotiations for 2017 and 2018. He declined, however, to elaborate on net pricing – a parameter that shows how much consumers pay for a product after potential reductions – for Humira in 2017, other than to say it likely wouldn't deviate greatly from this year.
"Price is something that, as I said, we look at it very carefully every single year, and we make a determination as to what we think is appropriate," Gonzalez said. "We typically build in a conservative level of price into our planning assumptions because we don't want to be exposed in any way…"
AbbVie's net revenue increased 8.2% to $6.43 billion during the third quarter, and the company also announced a 12% dividend increase.
The positive results didn't make a dent in AbbVie's stock price, however. The company reported third quarter results around 8 a.m. on Friday, but its stock increased just five cents to $55.60 by close of market. Shares are down 2.77% year-to-date.
While AbbVie seemed upbeat about the performance of Humira, investors and analysts continue to worry that the company will fail to fill the revenue gap once the drug starts to decline. Humira makes up more than 60% of AbbVie's topline.