Feb 10, 2020

Big Pharma Giant Bests Wall Street Expectations After Hiking Prices In January


Yet another brand name drug company announced last week it had surpassed earnings expectations after hiking prices on American patients. On Friday, Big Pharma giant AbbVie reported sky-high profits after enacting a series of price hikes throughout 2019.

  • AbbVie reported 4th quarter revenues of $8.7 billion, beating Wall Street expectations.
  • Sales of cancer treatment Imbruvica rose almost 29 percent, while reported revenues on AbbVie’s blockbuster drug Humira reached over $4.9 billion.
AbbVie continues to hike prices on American patients, despite the escalating crisis of affordability and heightened attention around out-of-control prescription drug prices.
  • AbbVie kicked off the new year with more than 50 price hikes in January.
  • AbbVie yet again increased the price on the world’s already best-selling drug, Humira, increasing the drug’s price by 7.4 percent.
  • Humira’s price has almost doubled since 2012, from about $19,000 to $38,000.

And, AbbVie is among the most notorious Big Pharma companies that game the system to undermine competition and keep prices high.

Here are just a few examples:

  • AbbVie Has Filed 247 Patent Applications On Humira In The U.S. With The Aim Of Delaying Competition For 39 Years. “AbbVie’s pricing practices are protected by an aggressive evergreening patent strategy to extend the life cycle of Humira in order to deliberately delay competition. The overpatenting of Humira and other medicines puts a strain not only America’s public health care budgets, but also undermines the health and financial well-being of individuals and families throughout the country.” (“Overpatented, Overpriced: Special Humira Edition,” I-MAK, 9/17)
  • AbbVie Increased Its $20 Billion Blockbuster Drug Humira By 6.2 Percent Just A Couple Of Months After Settling Lawsuits To Keep Generics Off The Market Until 2023. “AbbVie increased by 6.2 percent the list price of its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis treatment Humira, which is on pace to record about $20 billion in sales in 2018.” (Michael Erman, “Drug Companies Greet 2019 With U.S. Price Hikes,” Reuters, 1/2/19)
  • Originally Set To Lose Patent Protection In 2014, AbbVie Has More Than Doubled The Span Under Which Its Blockbuster Humira Is Covered, With The Latest Expiration Now In 2034. “The company listed 22 patents for various diseases or methods of treatment, 14 on the drug’s formulation, 24 on its manufacturing practices, and 15 ‘other’ patents. The latest expiration date is 2034 – providing more than double the protection span a drug such as Humira might normally expect.” (Cynthia Koons, “This Shield Of Patents Protects The World’s Best-Selling Drug,” Bloomberg Businessweek, 9/7/17)

AbbVie joins a slew of Big Pharma giants who have reported expectation-besting earnings for the fourth quarter of 2019 after hiking prices on American patients – Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Roche, Novartis, Pfizer, Amgen, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline & Bristol-Myers Squibb. Stay tuned for more as fourth quarter earnings reports continue to roll in.