It is now official - AbbVie (
) exists. For those who may not recall, AbbVie is the so-called
research-based pharma that has been spun off by Abbott
) and features a portfolio of existing medicines, such as Humira
and Synthroid, along with a pipeline of some 20 compounds in
Phase II or Phase III development.
Abbott shares fell to reflect the spinoff of AbbVie.
One question, though, is what kind of shelf life will AbbVie
actually have? On one hand, there is Humira, a biologic that is
approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn's
disease, where the average treatment penetration rate is below 20
percent, notes Damien Conover, who heads pharma research at
Morningstar, in an investor report today.
And Humira is a huge seller that is expected to generate some
$10 billion in sales this year alone, reflecting the growth
potential in those illnesses. And while patent protection expires
in 2016, the medication is a complex biologic, suggesting the
likelihood that generic rivals will appear immediately may not be
Then again, Abbott - or AbbVie - is not taking any chances.
Last year, the drug maker petitioned the FDA not to approve any
biosimilar for Humira on the grounds that the FDA would have no
choice but to use trade secrets submitted to the agency when
approval for Humira was first sought (see prior
). And recently, Pfizer won approval for its Xeljanz pill for RA
(and also this
Meanwhile, AbbVie cardiovascular drugs - Tricor, Trilipix and
Niaspan - represent 13 percent of sales and two of these face
patent losses over the next two years, which Conover writes will
create a drag on growth. And the pipeline, he adds, is "weak" and
has a "heavy emphasis in the highly competitive hepatitis C
market." A protease inhibitor is expected to reach the market by
2014 or 2105 and generate between $1 billion and $2 billion in
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Ed Silverman, a contributing editor of YCharts, is the
founder and editor of Pharmalot. He previously reported on the
pharmaceutical industry and other business topics for the
Star-Ledger of New Jersey, New York Newsday and Investor's
Business Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.