- Investment bank Piper Jaffray says sales estimates are too low for AbbVie's Skyrizi, based on a survey that found doctors expect prescriptions for the new psoriasis drug to accelerate even after a strong launch.
- Skyrizi fetched $48 million in less than two months following its May launch, leading AbbVie to forecast $250 million in global sales for 2019. Piper Jaffray now believes that figure could be conservative, and is modeling global sales of $300 million for this year and $800 million for 2020.
- Supporting that belief are results from a new survey of nearly 100 high-volume dermatologists who collectively treat more than 37,500 patients. According to Piper Jaffray, the dermatologists indicated that 8% of psoriasis patients would be prescribed Skyrizi by the end of the year, which is roughly the same share as competitor drugs like Amgen's Enbrel, Johnson & Johnson's Tremfya and Eli Lilly's Taltz.
Generic competition to AbbVie's mega-blockbuster drug Humira (adalimumab) should put around half of its revenue at risk by 2023. And while the company has a strategy in place to offset that decline, some of its moves have yet to pan out.
Perhaps most notable, AbbVie last week said it would shutter development of a drug at the heart of its $6.4 billion Stemcentrx acquisition.
A planned $63 billion purchase of Allergan has also been met with investor skepticism.
More realized, however, are Skyrizi (risankizumab) and another recently approved AbbVie medication named Rinvoq (upadacitinib). AbbVie executives argue the two drugs could achieve best-in-class status across many immunological diseases, and have placed lofty peak sales goals of $5 billion and $6.5 billion on them, respectively.
That new survey, conducted by Piper Jaffray partner Spherix Global Insights just weeks after Skyrizi's launch, suggests the drug may be on a faster track to blockbuster status than analysts thought.
Results found that 17% of the dermatologists had already prescribed Skyrizi, and to an average of more than four patients. The percentage is poised to grow to 59% in the next two to three months, according to Piper Jaffray, with 42% of those doctors indicating they'll be "fairly aggressive" in their Skyrizi use.
What's more, Skyrizi's growth doesn't appear as though it will hurt Humira so much as products from rival companies. Dermatologists signaled that they're more likely to prescribe Skyrizi in place of drugs that work the same way, such as Tremfya (guselkumab) and Stelara (ustekinumab), compared to drugs that work like Humira.
Across those surveyed, 27% said Tremfya was most likely to be replaced, while 20% said Stelara and 13% said Sun Pharma's Ilumya (tildrakizumab). Just 10% said Humira was most likely to be replaced.
Christopher Raymond, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, cautioned in a Sept. 4 note that the investment bank isn't updating its model to align with the survey results verbatim.
Still, the responses give a positive outlook to AbbVie's place in at least one market.
"[W]e remain confident in our thesis that [AbbVie] can effectively change the narrative toward one of growth as both the Skyrizi and Rinvoq launches play out," Raymond wrote.