AbbVie: Despite Competition, Humira Still the Number-One Prescribed Biologic

January 30, 2017

Despite the threat of competition, both from biosimilars to Humira and new therapies that work through other mechanisms of action, AbbVie says Humira is still number one.

Humira (adalimumab) will still be protected from market competition until 2022, said Richard Gonzalez, chairman and CEO of AbbVie, in a recent fourth-quarter investor call. The drug drove 16% global operational growth in 2016, including United States growth of 24% and international operational growth of 4.3%.

Gonzalez compared Humira to other products that have approved biosimilars on the market outside of the US, such as Remicade (infliximab) and Enbrel (etanercept), which each have approximately 3%–5% of the overall market. Gonzalez said he is watching the erosion curve carefully, but that Humira's competitors should have uptake similar to what the market has seen with Remicade and Enbrel biosimilars.

Supply chain model for biologics should help biologics retain market share

Product substitution at the pharmacy level is not really a threat for biologics like Humira, said Gonzalez, unless competing programs are able to achieve interchangeability.

He said, "very little or almost none of biologics go through retail pharmacy, they go through and are dispensed through specialty pharmacy where your formulary position is really what dictates what product is dispensed, not the individual pharmacy. So, I don’t think it [interchangeability] fundamentally changes that part of the strategy."

Manufacturing in the US

One investor asked if the company had flexibility to move its manufacturing operations for Humira to the US should there be some type of formal mandate from the current President of the United States or in the event that "there is a tax paradigm that favors the US." Gonzalez said this should not really be an issue, as Humira is largely manufactured in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico. He said any decisions to move the supply chain could ultimately depend on whether Puerto Rico would be considered a part of the US by the powers that be (it is a territory of the US).

Source: Seeking Alpha