AbbVie’s financial update for the first quarter provided some detail on the situation facing Humira (adalimumab) – the product which has formed the backbone of the company’s portfolio for a number of years, as well as being the biggest-selling drug in the world for much of this period.
As the patents protecting the treatment fell away in the US, the entry of biosimilars onto the market has had a significant impact on revenues from the product. In the results, AbbVie revealed that global net revenues for Humira were down to $3.5bn (€3.15bn), representing a 25.2% drop on a reported basis.
With biosimilars having entered the US market at the beginning of the year, the company also noted a 26.1% decrease in sales in the country.
Regarding the situation, Rick Gonzalez, CEO of AbbVie, told investors on a call: “We are one quarter into the US biosimilar event for Humira, and are managing the erosion well. Most importantly, our growth platform is demonstrating strong performance, exceeding our expectations. We are executing well across all aspects of our business, and see numerous opportunities for our diverse portfolio to drive long-term growth.”
The other areas of growth for the company were centered around Skyrizi (risankizumab) and Rinvoq (upadacitinib), the latter being a JAK inhibitor that targets inflammation, and the former being a monoclonal antibody approved to treat plaque psoriasis, and other conditions. Global sales for the products saw Skyrizi bring in net revenue of $1.3bn and Rinvoq $686m.
However, overall, with the impact on Humira sales, global net revenue of $12.225bn represented a decrease of 9.7% on a reported basis over the previous year. Tom Hudson, chief scientific officer at the company, also noted that there will be seven to nine biosimilars coming onto the market ‘in the middle of the year’, further impacting US sales of Humira.
Hudson also revealed that the company had decided not to pursue further development for two drug candidates targeting cystic fibrosis and Crohn’s disease. He outlined that ABBV-576, as part of a triple-therapy, did not meet the company’s criteria to advance further, and therefore AbbVie would discontinue the cystic fibrosis program.
The Crohn’s disease candidate, ABBV-154, did show signs of efficacy, Hudson noted, but its benefit-risk profile “would not sufficiently differentiate 154 from other available treatments.” This conclusion also saw the company decide not pursue further development of the asset.