Is AbbVie's Imbruvica concerned about AZ's rising Calquence? We've got this covered, execs say

AbbVie and J&J's Imbruvica is still king in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, but will a future challenge from AZ's Calquence put a damper on that supremacy? (AbbVIe)

AbbVie has a lot on its plate with a megamerger with Allergan in the works and the rollout of blockbuster hopeful Rinvoq. One thing it hasn't had to worry about much is its blood cancer franchise––and, despite a rising challenger in AstraZeneca's Calquence, AbbVie still isn't concerned.

The company's big-selling Imbruvica, jointly marketed with Johnson & Johnson, and newer Venclexta together nabbed global sales of $1.48 billion in the third quarter. Imbruvica gobbled up the majority of that pie with $1.04 billion in U.S. sales and $225 million in overseas profit-sharing––an impressive 29.3% increase from the same quarter in 2018. 

That's all great news for AbbVie, which is facing declining sales of megablockbuster Humira abroad and U.S. biosimilars in the not-too-distant future. However, AZ's Calquence is coming hard after Imbruvica in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) indications––if not yet sales––and analysts appeared a little spooked during an earnings call with AbbVie execs Friday. 

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As CEO Rick Gonzalez sees it, AbbVie is in a strong position to compete, what with Imbruvica well-established in CLL and next-gen Venclexta already approved to treat new and previously treated patients in that indication. 

"I don’t see physicians taking well-treated patients on Imbruvica and switching them to Calquence or whatever else," he said on the call. "In the case of new patients and failure patients, they’ll have to compete with Venclexta in this market. I feel highly confident in our position in this marketplace based on our performance and the assets that we have."

Calquence hit just $44 million in sales in the third quarter, boosting sales for its first full year on the market to $108 million. 

RELATED: AbbVie unveils Venclexta data that scored lightning-fast leukemia combination nod

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