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AbbVie sales jump on strong Humira gains

Extra indications help boost performance of treatment for autoimmune disorders

Humira - AbbottJust seven months after being spun out as an independent company from Abbott, AbbVie has posted second-quarter sales of $4.7bn, ahead of consensus analysts' forecasts.

The 4.4 per cent increase in turnover was largely thanks to a stellar performance by flagship rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira (adalimumab), which grew more than 12 per cent to $2.6bn in the quarter thanks to increased use in indications such as ulcerative colitis and psoriasis.

"All told we expect new indications … to add roughly $1.5bn in incremental global sales," said AbbVie chief executive Richard Gonzalez on the firm's quarterly conference call.

AbbVie's sales gains came despite the continuing impact of the loss of patent protection for cholesterol-lowering drug TriCor (fenofibrate), which fell 66 per cent to $153m as generic competition gained momentum. 

Niaspan (niacin) - another cholesterol-lowering therapy - posted a 10 per cent rise in sales to $232m but is expected to be hit hard when patents start to expire late this year.

Investors have been keen to see substance in AbbVie beyond Humira - which loses patent protection in 2016 - and Gonzalez emphasised double-digit gains for its specialty products including Synthroid, Creon, Zemplar and Duodopa.

Hypothyroidism drug Synthroid (levothyroxine) is reaching maturity - with generics well-established for many years - but managed a 24 per cent sales hike to $153m thanks to continuing brand loyalty.

Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy Creon (pancrelipase) grew 20 per cent to $106m while Zemplar (paricalcitol) for hyperparathyroidism was up 12.5 per cent to $63m, reversing first -quarter declines as AbbVie re-focuses its selling efforts on key speciality brands.

Non-US sales of drug-device combination Duodopa for Parkinson's disease grew around 25 per cent to $44m, and AbbVie said it remains hopeful of approval for the product in the US in 2014 following its filing there towards the end of last year.

Among other products, HIV therapy Kaletra (lopinavir/ ritonavir) rose 1.1 per cent to $278m, while revenue from testosterone replacement therapy AndroGel fell 6.5 per cent to $258m.

AbbVie is also highlighting its late-stage pipeline as it gears up for the impact of competition to Humira, particularly its all-oral hepatitis C drug combination regimen, which consists of ABT-450/r, ABT-267 and ABT-333, with and without ribavirin, and gained FDA breakthrough status in May.

The regimen is due to be filed in the second quarter of 2014 and AbbVie is in a race to market with rival Gilead Sciences for a slice of what is predicted to be a multibillion dollar market.

"There will be a fair amount of pent-up demand so we're … building up all of the assets we need to be in a position to be able to have an aggressive launch," said Gonzalez.

29th July 2013

From: Sales

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