JPM23: AbbVie 'well positioned' for this year's Humira biosimilar showdown, CEO says

It's the moment of truth for AbbVie. The first Humira biosimilar is set to launch later this month, with many more to follow throughout the year. 

AbbVie maintains that it is well prepared. After a sales slump this year and next, the company plans to return to growth in 2025, CEO Richard Gonzalez said during a presentation at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

The pharma giant expects the immunology duo of Skyrizi and Rinvoq to pick up most of the slack. By 2027, their combined sales should surpass Humira’s peak sales of around $20 billion, Gonzalez said.

As for Humira, the company rushed to secure broad 2023 formulary access for its aging therapy—despite the impending biosimilar threats. The company signed agreements with "all of the major" U.S. payers, Gonzalez said.

This year, the drugmaker expects price erosion to bring the biggest hit to Humira sales as it competes for formulary access. The volume losses should come next year as the environment becomes even more competitive, he said.

Despite those losses, AbbVie doesn't plan to lower its 2024 sales guidance. The drugmaker expects that growth across its portfolio will "more than offset" Humira losses, according to Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, citing the promise of AbbVie's own drugs, Gonzalez said the company doesn’t have to “go out and do business development” to support future growth. Still, the company will continue to scout for opportunities.

Specifically, AbbVie will look for assets that will contribute to “high, single-digit top tier growth” in 2030 and beyond. Those assets would have to be in areas that the company primarily focuses on such as immunology, oncology, neuroscience and aesthetics, the CEO said.

Amgen will make the first hit at Humira, launching its biosimilar later this month. Copycats from Samsung and Organon, Boehringer Ingelheim, Mylan, Novartis and Pfizer will follow. In 2021, Humira pulled in a whopping $20.7 billion in sales.