JPM, Day 3: AbbVie duo's $20B ambitions, GSK and Pfizer's what-next moment and Amarin's clear runway

San Francisco
Another JPM year is nearing a close in San Francisco. (Anthony Quintano via Flickr)

We're not gonna lie—Wednesdays at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference feel a bit anticlimactic. Two days of meetings, presentations, panels and cocktail hours are past, and we can see the end in sight.

But that doesn't mean the action has come to a halt. Indeed, we picked up some unprecedented talk from AbbVie CEO Rick Gonzalez first thing Wednesday morning, and by day's end had heard some even bigger numbers from a GlaxoSmithKline vaccines exec.

Now, our JPM on-site team is dispersing, recapping and digging through notebooks for quotes that captured the whirlwind conference-in-progress. Here's what we heard—and what we're thinking—after Day 3.

Missed our previous roundups? Here are Day 1 and Day 2. And check out our collected JPM coverage: FierceBiotech's here and FiercePharma's here.

GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer seem to have contradictory visions for their consumer health joint venture. During a Tuesday presentation, Pfizer chief Albert Bourla said he believes the JV is heading toward an IPO within three to four years in a move that provides the New York pharma a “clear exit strategy.” Maybe not, GSK’s chief strategy officer David Redfern said in an interview with Bloomberg the following day. "And it’s entirely our decision,” Redfern said. Story

At Wednesday’s first presentation, AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez talked up the potential of two the drugmaker’s new immunology launches Skyrizi and Rinvoq. While only approved in psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis right now, respectively, Gonzalez said he expects the meds to pick up new indications to eventually match or best Humira, AbbVie’s almost-$20 billion megablockbuster. If pricing holds steady, he could envision the meds reaching $20 billion in sales or more, easily picking up where Humira leaves off as biosimilars enter the U.S. in 2023. Story

GSK’s Shingrix generated blockbuster sales quickly after its launch, but numbers touted by the drugmaker this week show the size of the remaining opportunity—and how much supply constraints have held the rollout back. The company figures a massive 115 million people in the U.S. alone would be eligible for Shingrix, GSK’s vaccines president Roger Connor told FiercePharma at JPM. The company's “looking everywhere” to increase capacity, but it’s started to hit a “bottleneck," with true relief several years away. Story

Amarin's been revving up for Vascepa's big CV launch in the U.S., and now that AstraZeneca’s Epanova flopped a major trial, its field is clear of competitors. In Europe, Vascepa is still awaiting its regulatory review for CV risk reduction, but that hasn't stopped other drugmakers from sniffing around for possible licensing opportunities, CEO John Thero told investors Wednesday. Not interested, Thero said—at least not yet. Amarin sees more value in waiting out the regulatory process before considering a deal. “It’s still a bit premature to get too far along in these conversations as we think the value will increase as the regulatory process proceeds in Europe,” he said. Story

Michael Goettler, CEO-to-be of the new Viatris, said the combination of Mylan and Upjohn will have global scale and geographic reach, and will be a “partner of choice” for midsized drugmakers seeking to reach new markets. The combination makes sense because together the companies will have a sustainable and diverse portfolio, plus strong commercial capabilities and financial performance, Goettler said.

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