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AbbVie ‘pleased’ with first year

Published on 03/02/14 at 10:24am
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Rheumatoid arthritis treatment Humira - as expected - has driven AbbVie in its first year as a standalone company, accounting for $10.7 billion of the company’s $18.8 billion turnover in 2013.

In the fourth quarter last year the company brought in revenue of $5.1 billion (down 1%), with sales of Humira growing 13% worldwide and 18% in the US.

Although new entity AbbVie formally split from Abbott at the start of 2013, it is possible to make year-on-year financial comparisons by looking at sales of the portfolio of drugs which transferred to AbbVie.

The company’s overall turnover rose 2.2% in 2013, although it dropped 2.4% in the US year on year.

Chief among the poor performers was out of patent TriCor/Trilipix, which plummeted 72% to $303 million, while sales of HIV treatment Kaletra dropped 5% year-on-year to $962 million and prostate cancer drug Lupron fell 2% to $785 million.

“We are pleased with AbbVie’s performance in our first full year as an independent biopharmaceutical company,” insisted Richard Gonzalez, AbbVie’s chairman and chief executive.

Spending on R&D amounted to 15.6% of sales in the fourth quarter, as AbbVie looks for more Humira indications (to join eight in Europe and seven in the US so far), and tries to further its pipeline - with much hope pinned on a new therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV).

AbbVie expects its 2014 revenue to be $19 billion - although this figure does not include what it might bring in from the expected US launch this year of the HCV treatment.

Topline data from Phase III studies have been promising, the company says.

AbbVie has also started a late-stage programme looking at ABT-199/GDC-0199, an investigational BCL-2 (B-cell lymphoma 2) selective inhibitor, in patients with relapsed refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

And last month, AbbVie began a Phase III trial of its investigational compound veliparib in women with early-stage, triple-negative breast cancer, in combination with carboplatin chemotherapy.

It expects Phase III evaluations of veliparib in other cancers this year, AbbVie says.

Meanwhile, even though Humira’s US patent expires in December 2016, it remains a vital asset for the North Chicago-based company: in 2013 AbbVie issued two injunctions against the European Medicines Agency to prevent the regulator revealing data about it.

“We achieved all of the objectives we set forth for 2013, exceeded our original earnings guidance, and established a solid foundation for the future,” Gonzalez concluded.

“We intend to build on this momentum in 2014 as we invest in our key products, advance our pipeline, and prepare for significant product launches that will drive growth in 2015 and beyond,” he added.

Adam Hill

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