AbbVie pegs growth to booming Skyrizi, Rinvoq in post-merger future. But neurology could be a 'sleeper'

AbbVie hopes its Allergan portfolio and recent launches will keep driving growth past 2023. (AbbVie)

With its $63 billion merger with Allergan in the rearview, the new AbbVie is facing a major challenge as U.S. biosimilars for Humira cast a pall over the near-term future. But AbbVie figures its homegrown prospects will keep driving growth—and a couple of surprises from Allergan could make the forecast even rosier. 

After six months with Allergan in tow, AbbVie is seeing better-than-expected sales for superstar immunology launches Skyrizi and Rinvoq, both of which are expected to drive growth after megablockbuster Humira faces U.S. biosimilars in 2023, executives said on an earnings call with analysts Friday. 

On the quarter, Skyrizi and Rinvoq combined hit $650 million in sales, putting the combo well on its way to delivering more than $2 billion in sales within a year. Market share for both meds is booming, CEO Rick Gonzalez said, particularly Skyrizi, which has topped 33% of "in-play" market share for new patients. 

Both drugs are a major factor in AbbVie's future—Gonzalez has pegged their combined sales potential at $20 billion per year, despite analyst estimates of around $11 billion at peak—and will help soak up the expected damage from Humira's demise.

That hopeful forecast comes as AbbVie looks to piece together indications for both drugs that roughly match Humira's existing clinical profile.

"[If] we have covered all of the major indications of Humira, and if we can achieve that kind of market share (33%) in each of these indications then we’ll obviously double what we assumed that 2025 number was," Gonzalez said. "That gets you pretty close to covering Humira in the U.S."

But the plan isn't just to match Humira but to expand on it. That's where Rinvoq's push into atopic dermatitis—a potential blockbuster opportunity—could work magic. 

RELATED: AbbVie's Rinvoq backs up eczema case with 2nd pivotal trial win

On Friday's call, executives tapped the atopic dermatitis market at $3 billion and forecast that Rinvoq could find plenty of patients despite Dupixent's current stranglehold on the field. Given the underserved patient potential, Gonzalez predicted that more competitors on the market and more education opportunities would lead to more eligible patients seeking treatment—a win-win for both Rinvoq and Dupixent. 

But analysts have expressed caution about Rinvoq's chances, particularly with safety worries about JAK inhibitors, captured in a classwide boxed warning about an increased risk of blood clots. 

In June, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges argued that Rinvoq was likely to capture only "limited share in the first-line setting" given its iffy label. That wouldn't mean it couldn't emerge as standard-of-care for patients who did not respond to a prior biologic like Dupixent, though.

RELATED: AbbVie CEO: Don't worry, Allergan's aesthetics clients still have money—and 'strong desire' for treatment