Apparently so does everyone else. For a video presentation of the top 20 selling drugs for 2017, see this. Warning, the presentation is titled “best selling drugs in 2018.” See the disconnect? While InsightCity does not have Carnac skills, others might. Anywho. Drug #20 (Stelara) generated ~$4B in sales while #1 (Humira) generated ~$18B. Not too shabby. What’s really interesting is that Humira is off-patent and the FDA has approved two, yes two, biosimilars. How has AbbVie continued to increase sales of Humira after patent expiration? In a word, legalese. According to Jefferies analyst Ian Hilliker, “the fact that a 2nd biosimilar developer has given up on litigating Humira in favour of a settlement helps to underpin the strength of AbbVie’s Humira IP.” With a worldwide prescription drug market of ~$800B, it’s not only Danny Noonan that takes drugs every day.
And soon it starts to add up. This week the NIH announced a pretty cool partnership with the private pharma industry. The Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT) is a five-year public-private research collaboration totaling $215 million as part of the Cancer Moonshot project. 11 pharma companies (AbbVie, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Genentech, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer) will contribute $1M each for five years. The NIH will contribute $160 million. The goal: “to identify, develop and validate robust biomarkers — standardized biological markers of disease and treatment response — to advance new immunotherapy treatments.” Sweet. If you want to read what pharma PR folks have been up to you can read their responses here. For the top 10 private-public immuno-oncology collaborations, look here.
Hepatitis C is expensive to treat, which is why a lot of patients don’t get treated for it, and that possibly contributes to why it’s the deadliest infectious disease in the US. It’s gotten to the point where states are considering legal challenges to those precious patent laws that pharma typically spends a lot of money on to make sure no one touches. So, in the fight to increase Hep C treatment, in one corner we have legal challenges, and in the other we have good ol’ market forces. Abbvie’s new Mavyret costs well less than half the amount of some existing treatments, and it can treat all six strains of the infection. Your move competition, may the markets be ever in your favor.
And no, we are not talking about the person that let you drink in your college dorm room. Earlier this week Boehringer Ingelheim announced the FDA has approved Cyltezo, a biosimilar to AbbVie’s Humira. A year ago, the FDA approved Amgen’s Amjevita, another biosimilar to Humira. Cyzelto was noted to be “highly-similar” to the reference product. Good for BI. The FDA said that Amjevita is not an interchangeable product for Humira and placed a Black Box warning on the product. Bad for Amgen. But wait, there’re more. It really doesn’t matter. AbbVie has launched several lawsuits, so despite the FDA’s approval, neither Cyltezo nor Amjevita are commercially available in the US. Here is what Amgen and BI are thinking now. Oh, what a tangled web we weave…
Gilead isn’t the only Hep C game in town but, to date, has held strong to its first-mover advantage. According to a recent article in Investor’s Business Daily, that may soon change. And not because of a lower price. AbbVie’s competitive offering will still list for around $28,000 per month. Its competitive advantage lies in its 4-week shorter treatment regimen. Also, AbbVie’s glecaprevir and pibrentasvir drug combo is likely to be approved with few conditions. Where Gilead’s treatment combo is a 12-week regimen for patients who have not previously responded to a single drug treatment, AbbVie’s combo is taken for only 8 weeks and will probably be approved as a first-line treatment. “Aw, crap,” thought someone at Gilead, probably.
AbbVie is now in a 5-year relationship with Johns Hopkins and Northwestern University. The goal? Advancing oncology R&D. The pharmaceutical giant will work with each university independently, providing funding for preclinical research and access to AbbVie’s existing research. Of course, in the spirit of reciprocation, AbbVie can exclusively claim any new discoveries as its own. Therapeutic areas of research will include breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers, among others. This is not the first time AbbVie has tapped the power of academic institutions. They entered a multi-million dollar oncology research collaboration with University of Chicago last April. Arrangements like these have the potential to be a win-win-win for pharma, academia and patients alike. After all, sharing is caring.
Maybe you should talk to your doctor to see if a HealthyDose™ of biosimilars is right for you. Side effects include: euphoria caused by an acute awareness of feeling yourself getting smarter, accusations of being a know-it-all by your colleagues, and more euphoria due to objectively knowing you are in fact smarter than your colleagues.
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Teva wants in the club. PhRMA, to be exact. Some existing members of PhRMA want the world’s largest generics company to take a long walk off a short pier. Probably something to do with the long, ugly history of patent challenges. AbbVie EVP, Carlos Alban, for one, wrote Teva’s membership would dilute PhRMA’s emphasis on innovation. Teva touts its more than $6 Billion in branded revenue as evidence to the contrary. And here’s another problem for those throwing shade on Teva’s application… PhRMA’s membership already includes companies with substantial interests in generic products (see Novartis / Sandoz, Pfizer / Hospira, and others). We think PhRMA will have a difficult time denying Teva’s application. But we also think the welcome dinner may be poorly attended.