By Tamara Mathias and Manas Mishra
(Reuters) - AbbVie Inc said on Friday a combination of new drugs in its arsenal and its planned $63 billion deal for Botox-maker Allergan Plc will counter declining sales of its long-time bestseller, Humira.
The drugmaker's shares were up 1.4% at $67.62 after it reported better-than-expected quarterly profit and raised forecast for the year.
Humira, which treats rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, is the world's best-selling medicine, but it has come under fire from cheap rivals in Europe and AbbVie is bracing for competition to the drug in the United States in 2023.
AbbVie has tried to stave off competition to Humira by aggressively signing deals to delay potential rivals in its largest market, the United States, and launched a new psoriasis medicine, Skyrizi, this year to help retain some market share.
"I think most investors that we met with (after announcing the Allergan deal) walked away with a positive," Chief Executive Officer Richard Gonzalez said on a conference call with analysts.
"I'm excited about the Allergan transaction... it will protect the company and the shareholders from a range of outcomes around Humira."
Gonzalez added that Skyrizi's launch had gone better than expected and raised 2019 sales forecast for the drug, on which it has partnered with Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim, to $250 million from an earlier estimate of $150 million.
Still, like its peers, AbbVie faces a changing landscape for healthcare policy, as the Trump Administration looks at ways to lower drug prices, including the introduction of a pricing index that will limit how much federal insurance pays for medicines.
AbbVie on Friday said its exposure to physician-administered drugs covered by Part B of Medicare is about 20% of U.S. sales and that to Part D drugs, which include prescription medicines taken at home, is very small.
Should U.S. President Donald Trump's pricing index proposal go into effect, drugs covered by Part B are likely to face reimbursement cuts.
AbbVie raised its adjusted earnings per share forecast for 2019 to between $8.82 and $8.92 from a prior range of $8.73 to $8.83.
Excluding items, it earned $2.26 per share in second quarter, beating estimates of $2.21.
Biosimilar competition outside the United States caused overall Humira sales to slip about 6% to $4.87 billion, but it still beat the $4.80 billion forecast by five analysts polled by Refinitiv IBES.
(For an interactive graphic on Humira sales, click here: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Mi1Mwm)
Net revenue fell slightly to $8.26 billion, but handily beat the average analyst estimate of $8.10 billion.
(Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)