Drugmaker AbbVie expects Humira volume erosion to worsen

By Leroy Leo and Christy Santhosh

(Reuters) -AbbVie expects a drop in sales volumes of its blockbuster arthritis drug Humira to deepen after recent changes by U.S. pharmacy benefit managers and as patients shift to other drugs.

Its shares were down nearly 5% in afternoon trade on Friday, after the company forecast U.S. Humira sales would fall 32% in the second quarter.

AbbVie’s investors have been closely watching the sales trajectory of Humira – the world’s top-selling drug till it lost exclusivity last year and saw the launch of nine close copies, or biosimilars, in the United States.

The company in February said it expects 36% U.S. sales erosion this year.

“What we see is that not all of the Humira prescriptions are moving to a biosimilar,” Chief Commercial Officer Jeffrey Stewart said during an investor conference call.

He said data showed patients were also moving to other drugs such as AbbVie’s newer immunology treatments Skyrizi and Rinvoq.

The company had so far managed to retain the majority of the Humira market, with a nearly 36% fall in the sales of the drug during the quarter largely driven by price competition in the United States.

Health insurer Cigna said on Thursday it plans to make close copies of Humira available with no out-of-pocket payment to eligible patients in the U.S. using its specialty pharmacy business beginning in June.

“There seems to be a lot of concern around the impact of Humira biosimilars. That seemed to be a focus on the call with most of the questions centering around this,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Evan Seigerman said, adding that Cigna’s plans could hit AbbVie’s Humira volume this year.

AbbVie generated $2.27 billion in Humira sales in the first quarter, roughly in line with estimates of $2.28 billion.The drugmaker and its investors have focused on sales of Skyrizi and Rinvoq to offset the erosion of sales from Humira.

The company earlier on Friday raised its annual adjusted profit forecast to between $11.13 and $11.33 per share, compared with $10.97 to $11.17 estimated earlier. It also beat first-quarter profit estimates on strong sales of Skyrizi and cancer drug Imbruvica. Skyrizi sales of $2.01 billion beat estimates of $1.94 billion, while Rinvoq’s $1.09 billion came in slightly higher than expectations of $1.06 billion.

AbbVie recorded an adjusted profit of $2.31 per share, surpassing estimates of $2.23 per share.

(Reporting by Leroy Leo and Christy Santhosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)


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