Abbvie pays dearly for miss by its new stars

With the loss of its biggest pipeline star Humira to generics earlier this year Abbvie could ill afford any stumbles from the products it has championed as potential replacements. But the company today reported disappointing sales of both Skyrizi and Rinvoq, its psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis treatments, causing shares to fall 9%. It also announced the scrapping of all future development of its cystic fibrosis pipeline, consisting of triple combination therapy, owing to disappointing trial results – good news for the cystic fibrosis leader, Vertex. In another blow to plans to reduce reliance on Humira, Abbvie also ended development of ABBV-154, its novel TNF/steroid conjugate for RA and Crohn’s following “changes in biomarkers consistent with systemic steroid exposure” at higher doses. There have long been calls for Abbvie to look at M&A to help its lacklustre performance, and after today those calls could grow louder. However, on today’s conference call chief executive Rick Gonzalez gave little indication that Abbvie would accelerate acquisition plans, only saying the group would continue to look at “internal and external assets”. If Skyrizi and Rinvoq sales continue to disappoint investors will want him to look a lot harder.

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