Feb 4, 2021

Brand Name Pharma Giants Surpass Expectations While Hiking Prices During Pandemic

New fourth quarter earnings reports released this week from Big Pharma giants GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and AbbVie demonstrate yet again that price hikes continue to support expectation-busting profits for brand name drug companies. Both pharmaceutical manufacturers beat Wall Street expectations for the fourth quarter of 2020 while hiking prices on prescription drugs to start 2021.


  • GSK reported fourth-quarter revenue of $11.9 billion – beating analysts’ expectations.
  • For this quarter, GSK’s vaccine sales increased 16 percent, while sales for its respiratory drugs increased 15 percent.
  • For the full year, GSK reported sales of $46 billion.
  • AbbVie reported fourth-quarter profit and revenue that beat expectations.
  • Overall sales rose 59.2 percent to $13.9 billion in the quarter.
  • Strong sales were driven by blockbuster drug Humira which reached $5.15 billion in sales.
The strong earnings reports come as no surprise as both companies have a history of hiking prescription drug prices – including during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • GlaxoSmithKline has already raised prices on more than 30 drugs in 2021, including on its blockbuster respiratory treatments and its cancer drug Zejula.
  • GSK participated in summer price hikes last year, even as Americans battled the economic consequences of the pandemic.
  • In 2020, GSK jacked-up prices 47 times, including on top-selling respiratory drug Trelegy Ellipta.
  • To kick off the New Year, AbbVie hiked prices on its blockbuster drug Humira, as well as on its autoimmune medicines Skyrizi and Rinvoq and cancer treatment Imbruvica – all by 7.4 percent.
  • Price hikes on AbbVie’s Humira were not supported by new clinical evidence and accounted for an unnecessary increase in U.S. drug spending of more than $1.8 billion from 2017-2018 according to ICER.
  • Humira’s price has almost doubled since 2012, from about $19,000 to $38,000. AbbVie currently holds over 130 patents on Humira in the United States, blocking competition for up to 39 years.

See how other brand name drug makers including Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Amgen have beat Wall Street expectations after hiking prices on American patients HERE, HERE and HERE.

Stay tuned this week as we continue to monitor Q4 earnings announcements from Big Pharma.