Ahead of its state-of-the-company address at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, AbbVie took the unusual step of reconfirming its guidance for its blockbusters-in-waiting Rinvoq and Skyrizi, saying it expects the duo's sales to reach a combined $15 billion in 2025.
Why update an estimate that hasn’t changed?
While AbbVie expects the two to produce the same combined revenue, there has been some movement on the projection for each. The company reduced Rinvoq’s sales estimate for 2025 by $500 million and increased Skyrizi’s by the same amount.
The adjustment for Rinvoq is based on a warning attached to its label. The drug is approved in the U.S. for rheumatoid arthritis and, just four weeks ago, earned a second indication for psoriatic arthritis. As a drug from the JAK inhibitor class, it has come under scrutiny for safety concerns. Its new label will limit its use to patients who have already tried a drug from the TNF inhibitor drug class, while previously it could be used ahead of TNFs.
“We’ve seen the RA label and we’ve seen how we can perform with that label, and we’ve also seen increased confidence both from treating physicians and the investment community on the basis of that update,” said AbbVie President Michael Severino, M.D. “We have continued confidence in the profile based on the clear benefit and the overall benefit-risk that we have delivered.”
While the warning will blunt sales in the U.S., AbbVie explained that there are offsetting factors, as it now expects higher than anticipated sales in international markets as well as higher global sales in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease following positive phase 3 study readouts for Rinvoq.
“The data that we’ve read out, both in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, have exceeded our expectations,” Severino said. “And that’s true from both a safety and efficacy perspective.”
Meanwhile, Skyrizi’s tweaked guidance is a result of its continued strong performance in psoriasis, AbbVie said.
Sales projections for the two drugs are closely watched considering AbbVie’s cash cow, Humira, is set to face biosimilar competition in the U.S. in 2023. The treatment rang up $20.39 billion in 2020, its ninth straight year as the world’s best-selling drug.
AbbVie on Tuesday said that it expects Rinvoq and Skyrizi to cover all of Humira's indications plus atopic dermatitis.
“We fully believe that Rinvoq and Skyrizi at peak will be greater than Humira (in terms of sales),” Rob Michael, AbbVie's Vice Chairman, Finance and Commercial Operations and Chief Financial Officer, said.
Analysts at Piper Sandler reacted positively to the company’s projection.
“With this clarity on long-term revenue expectations for the immunology franchise now in hand, combined with commercial momentum from an emerging neurology franchise and the aesthetics business, we continue to view AbbVie as well-positioned for growth following Humira’s loss of exclusivity,” wrote Christopher Raymond in a note to investors. “We continue to view AbbVie as an essential biotech holding, and it remains our top large-cap pick.”