Humira Sales Down 25% as AbbVie Cuts Two Programs 

AbbVie_Michael Vi/Adobe Stock

Pictured: An AbbVie building/courtesy of Michael Vi/Adobe Stock

As biosimilars continue to pummel AbbVie’s Humira sales, the Chicago-based pharma announced two program cuts while outgoing CEO Rick Gonzalez talked about his succession plans during a call with investors Thursday about the company’s first-quarter earnings report.  

The first Humira biosimilar hit the U.S. on January 31, 2023. Amgen’s Amjevita knocked global revenues of AbbVie’s immunology blockbuster down more than 25%. The decline is less than Wall Street predicted and “is tracking as expected with much of the impact driven by price,” Gonzalez said on Thursday’s investor call.  

AbbVie is “managing the erosion well,” he said.

However, it’s only the beginning of the decline. Eight other biosimilars have been approved by the FDA, with two more currently under review, according to Pharmacy Times.

With the Humira tide rolling out, AbbVie is turning to its other immunology drugs, Rinvoq and Skyrizi, to bring it back in. The two are expected to account for more than $27 billion in annual revenue by 2027, Gonzalez said at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

Rinvoq and Skyrizi missed revenue estimates by $127 million in the first quarter. AbbVie Vice Chairman and President Rob Michael said they’re “on track to contribute more than $11 billion in combined sales this year.”

Botox sales surpassed Wall Street estimates and cosmetic applications exceeded $659 million, $50 million over expectations, while therapeutic use jumped 17% to $719 million. Worldwide net revenues came in at more than $12 billion, a drop of 9.7%, still topping previous projections.

Program Cuts for Cystic Fibrosis, Crohn’s

AbbVie announced the cuts of two earlier-stage pipeline programs on Thursday. After an interim analysis of a study evaluating a triple combination therapy that didn’t meet the criteria, the company is discontinuing its cystic fibrosis (CF) program. Last spring, AbbVie discontinued CF medicine ABBV-119 after an interim analysis of a phase II trial did not meet the prespecified criteria to move the study forward.

Concerns over the benefit-risk profile led to AbbVie dropping ABBV-154, an antibody-drug conjugate being studied in polymyalgia rheumatica and Crohn's disease.

Skyrizi is already approved to treat Crohn’s disease. The EU approved Rinvoq as the first oral Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor for Crohn’s earlier this month and U.S. approval is anticipated as forthcoming.

After ten years at the helm, Gonzalez also discussed his plans to step down after getting AbbVie through the transition for Humira biosimilars. He told investors he is committed to a smooth transition and will stay on in any capacity the board desires.

The current expectation is that Gonzalez will assume the executive chairman role for the transition period. Without a timeline, he said not to expect the transition in 2023.

Investors seemed less than impressed, sending stocks down 8.5% Thursday after the call. AbbVie’s stock was down slightly in Friday's early morning trading.

Kate Goodwin is a freelance life science writer based in Des Moines, Iowa. She can be reached at kate.goodwin@biospace.com and on LinkedIn.  

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