AbbVie Sales Fall Short of Estimates as Biggest Drug Misses

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AbbVie Inc.’s second-quarter sales fell short of analyst expectations as the company’s top drug, the rheumatoid arthritis injection Humira, grew slower than investors had forecast.

Revenue grew 11 percent to $5.48 billion, short of analysts’ $5.59 billion prediction, the North Chicago, Illinois-based company said Friday in a statement. Foreign-currency fluctuations hurt sales by 8.3 percent.

Second-quarter earnings excluding one-time items were $1.08 a share. Analysts had forecast $1.06 on average, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Humira is AbbVie’s biggest product and made up 63 percent of the company’s revenue last year. The drug brought in $3.54 billion, short of the $3.69 billion analysts had estimated. International sales of Humira were hurt by the timing of shipments, Chief Executive Officer Rick Gonzalez on a conference call with analysts. The introduction of drugs called biosimilars that mimic Remicade, a rival rheumatoid arthritis medication from Johnson & Johnson, didn’t affect AbbVie’s sales, he said.

Still, AbbVie is seeking to reduce its reliance on Humira as more biosimilars come to market. To diversify, it bought Pharmacyclics Inc. for $21 billion in May, gaining a blockbuster cancer therapy that AbbVie thinks could be applied to many more malignancies beyond its current approvals for several types of blood cancer.

The drugmaker also has a hepatitis C treatment, Viekira Pak, that generated $385 million in sales in the second quarter, compared with an average estimate of $370 million. While Viekira sales were better than expected, the underlying number of prescriptions missed analysts’ estimates, according to Barclays Plc analyst Geoff Meacham. Shares of competitor Gilead Sciences Inc. and AbbVie’s partner Enanta Pharmaceuticals Inc. fell as investors worried that patient volume may be decreasing.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new AbbVie regimen, called Technivie, for hepatitis C patients with genotype 4, a subtype of the virus. Genotype 4 is not prevalent in the U.S. and is more common in the Middle East and in Egypt.

AbbVie shares fell 3 percent to $68.40 at 12:03 p.m. in New York. The stock has gained 30 percent in the past year, compared with a 54 percent increase in the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index.

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