USA —AbbVie Inc has missed quarterly revenue estimates for its newer treatments, causing concerns over the company’s attempts to offset the blow to sales caused by the expiration of its flagship arthritis drug Humira’s patent exclusivity.

As a result, the company’s shares fell 6% in premarket trading, despite a raised annual profit forecast. In the first quarter, Humira recorded sales of US$3.54 billion, below the average estimate of US$3.58 billion by analysts.

The company’s projected second-quarter net revenue is expected to be around US$13.5 billion.

However, Humira, which was once the world’s largest-selling drug for rheumatoid arthritis, is facing competition from biosimilars in the U.S., with AbbVie anticipating a market erosion of 27% in the second quarter of 2023.

In February, AbbVie had projected a 37% overall drop in Humira sales this year.

Amgen Inc. recently launched its biosimilar, Amjevita, the first such competition for Humira in the U.S., at a 5% and 55% discount to Humira’s monthly price of US$6,922.

This has put pressure on AbbVie to lower the price of Humira in order to compete with Amjevita, which could further impact the drugmaker’s revenue.

AbbVie is banking on newer drugs such as Skyrizi for psoriasis and related conditions and Rinvoq for several autoimmune disorders to help offset the decline in revenue from Humira.

However, in the first quarter of 2023, sales of both Skyrizi and Rinvoq fell short of expectations, indicating that AbbVie may face challenges in driving growth from these drugs.

However, Rinvoq’s sales of US$686 million in the first quarter missed the estimated US$713.7 million, and Skyrizi’s sales of US$1.36 billion also fell short of expectations of US$1.46 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

AbbVie attributed the lower sales of both drugs to customers working through their inventories.

AbbVie acquired Allergan in 2020, and the acquisition helped it avoid a “sales cliff” caused by the loss of Humira exclusivity.

Botox, another product of Allergan, performed well for AbbVie, with sales for cosmetic applications rising 3% to US$659 million, topping Wall Street estimates by US$50 million, and therapeutic use increasing 17% to US$719 million, surpassing expectations of US$651.4 million.

Despite the setback, AbbVie remains optimistic and has raised its 2023 adjusted earnings expectations to US$10.72 to US$11.12 per share, raising both ends of the range by 10 cents.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Evan Seigerman emphasized the need for AbbVie to instill confidence that the growth from its novel inflammation franchise will drive earnings as Humira faces competition.

He acknowledged that one-quarter of softness is not great but stated that he hopes it will not become a trend.

The success of AbbVie’s newer drugs will be key to the company’s ability to maintain growth in the face of this competition.

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