AbbVie's 2023 profit forecast misses as Humira faces heat from rivals
Feb 9 (Reuters) - AbbVie Inc on Thursday forecast 2023 profit below Wall Street expectations, in the first outlook since its blockbuster arthritis drug Humira faced competition from cheaper biosimilars in the United States early this year.
The company said it expected adjusted profit in the range of $10.70 to $11.10 per share for the full year, compared with analysts' average estimate of $11.65, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
AbbVie's weak forecast suggests that Humira rivals could nibble away at the blockbuster drug's market share at a faster pace this year than analysts' projections.
Amgen Inc recently launched Amjevita, the first such competition for Humira in the U.S., at a 5% and 55% discount to the drug's monthly price of $6,922.
At least seven other Humira biosimilars are expected this summer and could debut with discounted list prices.
Sales of the drug, AbbVie's growth driver for years, could decline by as much as 50% once more rivals gain health insurance coverage.
In the fourth quarter, Humira sales dropped 26.5% to $573 million in international markets such as Europe, where it already faces competition from multiple cheaper versions.
Overall, Humira sales rose 4.6% to $5.58 billion, in line with estimates, lifted by growth in the U.S. market.
In 2020, Abbvie sought to pre-empt the so-called "sales cliff" from Humira patent expiry through its $63-billion deal to buy Botox-maker Allergan.
Botox sales for cosmetic applications were up 2.6% at $642 million in the last three months of 2020, beating estimates of $629 million.
The drugmaker has also been hoping that newer immunology drugs Skyrizi and Rinvoq can help replace the lost revenue from Humira.
Skyrizi sales of $1.58 billion beat estimates of $1.52 billion, while Rinvoq missed with $770 million in sales compared with expectations of $816.14 million.
Excluding items, AbbVie earned $3.60 per share in the fourth quarter, beating analysts' average estimates of $3.56 per share. (Reporting by Mariam E Sunny and Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)