Humira: AbbVie’s biosimilar erosion woes may be overstated

An analyst says general forecasts of biosimilar erosion for Humira (adalimumab) are too pessimistic as the size of the brand could still present upsides for AbbVie.

AbbVie’s monoclonal antibody Humira continues to be the world’s top selling drug, despite biosimilar competition hitting sales outside of the US over the past few years. In 2020, global sales stood at $19.8 billion, $16.1 billion of which came from the US.

As it stands, legal agreements between AbbVie and a host of biosimilar developers mean direct competition will not enter the US until 2023, at which time as many as eight products could vie for a piece of the pie. Based on erosion rates in Europe and elsewhere, sales could drop by as much as 45% in the first year alone with an erosion rate of over 70% within three years.

Image: iStock/thexfilephoto

But it may not be all doom and gloom for AbbVie, according to Geoffrey Porges, an analyst from SVB Leerink, who says revenue erosion could be more gradual in the first few years, leaving substantial upside for the Big Pharma firm.

“Our analysis suggests that our current estimate for Humira and current consensus are potentially too pessimistic and leave room for some revenue upside for AbbVie. Given the size of the brand, such upside could still be material for the company,” he writes in a note.

“We expect the first biosimilar launch in 1Q23 with potentially more than five biosimilars entering in 2023. Our analysis suggests that US Humira could experience a more gradual revenue decline than our current estimate of 71% erosion within 11 quarters. The difference could be material to AbbVie (+$1-2 billion per year in the 2023-2025 period).”

Compared with other drugs that are seeing biosimilar erosion, such as J&J’s Remicade (infliximab), he adds that the branded adalimumab “has some unique formulation characteristics (broader dose range and reduced injection site pain) and a broad label centered on disease indications that require chronic treatment, that could defend its franchise from rapid erosion.

As such, one year on from biosimilar launch and Porges suggests Humira revenue could still be as high as $17.9 billion and even at its minimum pull in $14.5 billion.

“We note both FY2023 median and minimum revenue estimates from our analysis are higher than consensus’ and our current estimates of $10.5bn and $11.1bn, respectively. Two years out from initial biosimilar launch, FY2024E US Humira revenue could be $14.2bn at the median and $7.5bn at the minimum.”

Leave a Reply