AbbVie Bracing for Biosimilar Tsunami: Humira’s Dominance in Jeopardy

AbbVie’s much-anticipated Humira cliff has arrived, and the biopharma giant is feeling the impact on its 2023 projections. After releasing Q4 and annual 2022 results on Thursday, the Illinois-based company is looking to the future with a sense of trepidation.

The company achieved a milestone in the past year, with net revenues of over $58 billion – a 3.3% increase on a reported basis. Their blockbuster drug Humira was a major contributor, raking in a whopping $21 billion in net revenues. This remarkable success demonstrates the company’s ability to stay ahead of the curve and make the most of the market opportunities.

AbbVie has released its expected adjusted profit forecast for 2023, which fell short of analysts’ estimates. According to Refinitiv IBES data, the forecasted range was $10.70-$11.10, significantly lower than the analysts’ prediction of $11.65.

U.S. sales of Humira are projected to experience a 37% erosion in 2023, according to guidance from the company.

Since October 2018, Humira’s sales have been on a downward spiral due to biosimilar competition in Europe. Internationally, Humira’s 2022 sales of the injectable have plummeted a staggering 22%, plummeting to a total of $2.6 billion.

After two decades of dominating the market, Humira – the world’s best-selling drug – has finally met its match. Amgen’s Amjevita, the first biosimilar to the groundbreaking medication, hit the US market in January, offering users a discount of up to 55% off the $6,922 monthly price tag of Humira.

With nine Humira biosimilars slated to debut in the U.S. market by mid-2023, a shift in the healthcare landscape is on the horizon. Despite the increased competition, insurers have yet to provide any incentive for doctors to switch to biosimilars, maintaining AbbVie’s stronghold on the market. However, as more options become available, it’s likely that doctors will start to explore the benefits of choosing a biosimilar over the name brand drug. David Risinger, a securities analyst at SVB, believes this could lead to a shift in patient access to these treatments.

As we approach 2023, AbbVie’s CEO Richard Gonzalez is keenly anticipating the potential impact of biosimilars on Humira’s pricing. He’s forecasting what the price will look like in the future in light of the influx of biosimilars. How will Humira’s pricing be affected?

A Solid Foundation 

On the earnings call, AbbVie remained unfazed and optimistic, touting its extensive pipeline of over 80 assets to make up for the decline in income from Humira, the biopharma’s once star asset. While none of these assets are expected to reach the same heights as Humira, AbbVie still has high hopes for them in the future.

AbbVie has a strong foundation, which will enable them to weather the loss of exclusivity of Humira, their flagship drug in the United States. According to CEO Richard Gonzalez, this foundation will be vital in helping AbbVie emerge from the setback and remain successful.

AbbVie reported impressive fourth-quarter global net revenues of $15.121 billion, powered by its flagship drug Humira and other key treatments like Skyrizi, a monoclonal antibody for plaque psoriasis, and cancer treatment Imbruvica. This is a testament to AbbVie’s success and commitment to providing innovative treatments to those in need.

Rinvoq, a JAK inhibitor from AbbVie, has already been approved for six indications, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ulcerative colitis, and is in the final stages of approval for four more, including Crohn’s disease. In the next eight years, AbbVie projects that combined sales of Rinvoq and Skyrizi will exceed the staggering $20 billion in annual sales achieved by Humira, the record-breaking medication.

Beyond just immunology and hematologic oncology, our company also has a wide array of offerings in the neuroscience and aesthetics sectors. From helping people look their best to improving mental health, our products are at the forefront of medical innovation.

AbbVie is making a major commitment to research and development, raising its R&D investment dollars from $6.4 billion to $6.8 billion, as many of its programs move through the later stages of development. With a focus on both internal and external initiatives, the company is confident that this additional investment will lead to “very strong growth” in the future.

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