Aug 4, 2021 - Health

AbbVie's blockade of cheaper Humira options

Data: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

Sales of AbbVie's blockbuster anti-inflammatory drug Humira have declined internationally, as cheaper copycats known as biosimilars gain more traction in Europe. But Humira sales continued to rise in the U.S. last quarter because Humira biosimilars are locked out of the country until 2023.

Why it matters: Cheaper versions of Humira exist, but Americans don't have access to them due entirely to AbbVie's "legal strategy" of delaying entry.

The big picture: Humira biosimilars entered the European market in October 2018.

  • AbbVie signed deals with biosimilar manufacturers that prevent those biosimilars from entering the U.S. market until 2023.
  • Many employers have sued AbbVie, alleging the company has played games with Humira's patents and created "anticompetitive" deals to keep biosimilars out of the U.S.

Worth noting: AbbVie raised Humira's price by 7.4% at the start of this year.

  • If history is any guide, AbbVie keeps more than half of that price increase while the rest goes toward industry middlemen.

Go deeper: AbbVie's next Humira

Go deeper