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Pharma CEOs, including AbbVie's Richard Gonzalez, testify on Capitol Hill. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Humira is the world’s most profitable drug, but it’s also a prime example of Big Pharma's business model, as Sy Mukherjee lays out well in a big Fortune story.

The big picture: "These companies became like great big record labels: reliant on talent spotters going out and finding new artists," SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges tells Fortune.

Details: AbbVie, which now sells Humira, did not invent the drug. It bought the smaller biotech that did.

  • Once it owned Humira, AbbVie protected it with a thicket of patents — roughly 136 of them, and it has aggressively sued to protect those patents. It has also raised its list prices every year and spent big on marketing.
  • And now, with Humira competition inevitably approaching, AbbVie is buying Allergan, where it will benefit from the lucrative market for Botox and other cosmetic products.

Why it matters: This is increasingly how the industry works.

  • Small biotechs patented two-thirds of the novel drugs the FDA approved last year; Big Pharma companies only developed one-quarter of them.
  • Most Big Pharma companies are expected to reduce their research and development budgets.

The bottom line, per Mukherjee: "Hundreds of millions go to marketing and legal-fortress building, while innovation and scientific discovery — ostensibly the beating heart of the biopharmaceutical industry — is often imported from the outside."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Axios Visuals Deep Dive: Pandemic eating

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A food revolution began pre-pandemic and COVID has only accelerated that. See how America's food industry is transforming, from farm to your table.

Abrams’ campaign manager rules out 2024 run if she wins governor's race

Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

In her first major interview since the official announcement, Stacey Abrams' campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo quashed speculation that the Georgia Democrat would interrupt a theoretical gubernatorial term to run for president in 2024.

Why it matters: Abrams' name has come up repeatedly as a top 2024 Democratic contender given President Joe Biden's age and Vice President Kamala Harris's low favorability rating.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Trump social media group raises $1 billion from undisclosed investors

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Donald Trump's social media startup on Saturday announced that it secured $1 billion in new investment as part of its ongoing efforts to become publicly traded via a blank check company.

Between the lines: None of the investors were identified, which is highly unusual for this sort of transaction.

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