Jan 27, 2017

AbbVie's hep C drug isn't getting sold much

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AbbVie's hepatitis C drug, Viekira Pak, hasn't taken off like the competing drugs made by Gilead Sciences.

The drugmaker said Friday that sales of Viekira dropped 7% in 2016 to $1.5 billion. That's a lot of money, but Viekira is just 6% of AbbVie's total revenue. Sales in the United States alone dropped 57% last year. The core of AbbVie is its blockbuster Humira, which had more than $16 billion in sales in 2016.

Why this matters: When Viekira came to the market in 2015, it was seen as a potential competitor to Sovaldi and Harvoni, the two Gilead drugs that shook the health care world with their high prices. Like Sovaldi and Harvoni, Viekira had the ability to cure hepatitis C.

But even though Viekira scored a formulary deal with Express Scripts, it hasn't had the same widespread adoption. Part of the issue is Viekira was found to have some safety risks for hepatitis C patients who had more advanced liver disease. (This week, though, a new study found that Sovaldi and Harvoni may have side effects too.)

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