Soaring Humira drives AbbVie sales upwards

AbbVie may be looking to diversify its portfolio and reduce its reliance on Humira, but sales of the anti-inflammatory blockbuster continue to soar.

First-quarter net income edged up 1.2% to $980 million, while revenues increased 5.4% to $4.56 billion. Over half of that came from Humira (adalimumab), with the world’s best-selling drug contributing $2.64 billion, up 17.5%.

As for the company’s lipids franchise, TriCor (fenofibrate) and TriLipix (fenofibric acid) saw sales sink 81.8% to $23 million, hit by the loss of patent protection. Niaspan (niacin) brought in just $47 million, collapsing 75.0%, although the respiratory treatment Synagis (palivizumab), the AstraZeneca drug sold by AbbVie outside the USA, was up 2.7% to $354 million.

Revenues from the HIV drug Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) decreased 11.3% to $195 million, while sales of the prostate cancer drug Lupron (leuprolide) increased 3.9% to $189 million. The hypothyroid medication Synthroid (levothyroxine) leapt 31.5% to $157 million, and AbbVie’s AndroGel testosterone replacement therapy was up 6.0% to $254 million.

However, most interest at AbbVie now is centred on its hepatitis C pipeline and last week, the firm submitted a US regulatory application for its interferon-free three-pill combination for patients with genotype 1 HCV. AbbVie expects to get the green light for the combo later this year and European approval in early 2015.

If approved, the AbbVie drug will go up against Gilead Sciences’ Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), which has taken the market by storm, with first-quarter sales storming to $2.3 billion. Speaking on a conference call, AbbVie chief executive Richard Gonzalez expressed his confidence that the combo will get significant market share and noted that it is not the firm’s strategy to fix a price significantly lower than $1,000-a-day Sovaldi.

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