Despite big Q2 declines for Humira and Imbruvica, AbbVie still boosts earnings guidance

As Humira biosimilars enter the U.S. market in a steady stream, AbbVie execs say they're pleased with how the situation is playing out. Still, the company is weathering hefty revenue declines for that drug and another key medicine in its portfolio.

In the second quarter, Humira revenues slipped 25% compared with the same period last year, landing at $4 billion. On a conference call with analysts, AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez said the situation is playing out "as projected, and slightly better than our planning assumptions."

“We are competing very effectively with the various biosimilar offerings," Gonzalez said.

The company now expects Humira’s sales erosion to come out to 35% this year, compared with a prior estimate of 37%.

Meanwhile, Skyrizi and Rinvoq have been the company’s fallbacks amid growing Humira competition. In the second quarter, the drugs delivered sales gains of 50% and 55% year over year, respectively, to reach combined sales of $2.8 billion.

Looking ahead, the company expects the combined peak sales of those two drugs to “significantly exceed” Humira’s peak of $21.23 billion, chief operating officer Robert Michael said on the call.

Recently, Skyrizi beat out Amgen’s Otezla in a head-to-head phase 4 study, allowing AbbVie to position the drug “quite efficiently” against its competitor, Gonzalez noted. Skyrizi’s market share currently stands at about 32%, a number the company expects to rise over time.  

Overall, AbbVie's second-quarter revenue sales fell 4.9% to $13.86 billion.

Outside of the Humira struggles, AbbVie's hematologic oncology portfolio posted an even larger decline of 10.4%. That performance largely came courtesy of Johnson & Johnson-partnered oncology med Imbruvica, which posted a 20% decline to $907 million. That drug has been struggling in the face of intense competition from BeiGene's Brukinsa.

Despite the sales downturn, the company boosted its earnings guidance slightly after beating its expectations for both the first and second quarters of 2023. Now, AbbVie is expecting its full-year earnings per share to land between $10.90 and $11.10, compared with a prior range of $10.57 to $10.97.

As for M&A, the company is scouting for assets that aim to change the standard of care, Gonzalez said. AbbVie “certainly has the financial wherewithal” to snap up larger assets and would “obviously pursue” a buy that delivers a promising return, but doesn’t need such a deal to drive growth, he added.