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America’s top-selling drug Humira loses monopoly status

Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani joins the Live show to discuss news that Abbvie’s Humira drug now faces competition.

Video Transcript


RACHELLE AKUFFO: After decades of sales and over $200 billion in revenue, America's best-selling drug is finally going generic. Injectable arthritis and autoimmune treatment Humira has lost its monopoly. So what does this mean for competitors and overall costs?

Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani is following the story. Hi, Anjalee.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Hi, Rachelle. So as you mentioned, this is AbbVie's top-selling drug, absolute blockbuster that treats rheumatoid arthritis specifically, as well as some other diseases. And so what we're looking at is the drop off of the exclusivity of that patent for AbbVie.

And Amgen is coming on with its own biosimilar. There are also a number of others expected this year. Now, this is not new. The part that we know is that, you know, these biosimilars have been ready to go. But what AbbVie did really is extend its patent for this drug an additional six years from 2016 when it was supposed to lose exclusivity and when the biosimilars were supposed to get on.

Now, let me introduce you to AbbVie's Humira. And that is a drug that has, as you mentioned, $208 billion since getting on the market in 2002. $114 billion since 2016 when it renewed that patent. And $20 billion alone in 2022. So that's the market there that they are now competing with another treatment on the market with Amgen.

Now, Amgen is doing something really interesting. And that is it's pricing its biosimilar at two different levels, 5% and 55% off of Humira's price. Now, why that's interesting is because, as we know, the US drug system relies heavily on PBMs and insurers to take up the control of who gets these drugs, how the formularies work.

And what that means is that there's an incentive for the higher list price to be the one that's used. Now, two drug make-- two insurers, sorry, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare, have already kind of taken a stab at this by pointing to the fact that they're going to have both AbbVie's drug and the biosimilars on the same tier in the formulary. Meaning, that it's going to be the same out-of-pocket costs for patients.

However, what actually ends up getting prescribed is going to be particularly interesting when we see what the individual's particular insurance plan is, what their out-of-pocket costs are gonna be, et cetera. So really an interesting market. And really just another look at the, you know, US drug system and the insurance system. So we'll have to see what the uptick ends up being. But as of right now, a very interesting case in what is going on with these biosimilars and what happens down the line later this year when six others reach the market.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: Indeed, and then you add to that, obviously, the Biden administration's push to lower some of these prescription costs. It'll be an interesting time for biopharma this year. Great stuff. Anjalee Khemlani, thank you so much.