AbbVie is a research-based pharmaceutical company. It started as a spinoff of the long-established health care corporation Abbott Laboratories.
AbbVie was an immediate success, netting $18.8 billion in sales in its first year. This was largely due to the strength of its blockbuster drug Humira.
But, injured patients are suing AbbVie over the safety of some of the company’s popular drugs. Lawsuits blame Humira, AndroGel and Depakote for serious injuries and death.
AbbVie employs about 29,000 people in 75 countries. Its headquarters is in Lake Bluff, Illinois, which is a part of the Chicago metropolitan area.
Richard A. Gonzalez is AbbVie’s CEO. The company’s products brought in total revenues of $28.2 billion in 2017. The drugmaker focuses on immunology, oncology, neuroscience and virology.
AbbVie officially separated from Abbott Laboratories on Jan. 1, 2013. Abbott wanted to concentrate on medical devices such as heart stents. This allowed AbbVie to focus on research-based pharmaceuticals.
AbbVie releases its first branded product (Humira)
Brands serve more than 30 million people worldwide
First AbbVie-created medicine Viekira Pak gains U.S. approval
FDA approves Parkinson’s disease medicine Duopa
Humira receives the first and only approval to treat hidradenitis suppurativa, a chronic inflammatory skin disease
AbbVie gains new approvals for Imbruvica and Venclexta/Venclyxto
AbbVie acquires Stemcentrx to expand oncology presence
FDA approves Humira to treat an immune-mediated disease that can impair vision
Reputation Institute names AbbVie 2017’s most reputable pharmaceutical company
Maviret/Mavyret receives approval
DA grants AbbVie priority review of investigational treatment for endometriosis management
AbbVie makes more than 30 products and has more than 50 drugs in development. Several of the company’s pharmaceuticals rake in billions annually. These include Humira, Imbruvica and Viekira.
By far, AbbVie’s biggest sales generator is Humira. Doctors prescribe the drug to treat arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease. It accounts for more than half of AbbVie’s total annual sales.
- Testosterone (male hormone) gel
- Anti-seizure medication
- Drug for arthritis, Crohn’s disease
- Pain reliever
- Synthetic cannabinoid (man-made delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC)
- Treats high cholesterol and triglycerides (fat)
- Macrolide antibiotic
- Muscle relaxer
- Antiretroviral (HIV) medication
- Thyroid hormone
- Man-made form of vitamin D (treats chronic kidney failure)
- Inhaled anesthetic
“Any company seeking to market a biosimilar version of Humira will have to contend with this extensive patent estate, which AbbVie intends to enforce vigorously.”
AbbVie’s Humira Patent Fight
Humira is the world’s top-selling prescription drug, according to The New York Times.
The drug brought in $16 billion for AbbVie in 2016. Estimates for 2017 show increases of more than 15 percent in the U.S. and 6.5 percent abroad.
AbbVie is trying to block generic competition by filing new patents. AbbVie has filed more than 70 new patents on Humira.
In May 2017, AbbVie lost one round to the company Coherus. But according to Fortune, other patents should protect AbbVie’s sales through 2022.
Medical Marijuana and AbbVie
Some analysts classify AbbVie as a maker of medical marijuana.
AbbVie’s Marinol was the first FDA-approved cannabis drug. Solvay Pharmaceuticals developed the drug. Abbott acquired Solvay’s pharmaceutical division in 2010 and took on Marinol as well.
Doctors prescribe Marinol to patients with nausea and vomiting from cancer. People with AIDs use it to combat lack of appetite.
Its active ingredient is a synthetic cannabinoid – man-made delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. This main ingredient gives the drug its effects.
Abbvie doesn’t release Marinol’s sales numbers. This leads analyst to believe it’s not very profitable. But future developments on legalization may change the long-term outlook of the drug.
AbbVie Lawsuits and Settlements
AbbVie faces thousands of personal injury lawsuits. People blame the company’s products for serious injuries and deaths. The lawsuits accuse the company of failing to warn about its drugs’ risks.
The company’s biggest seller, Humira, is the subject of some of these lawsuits. AbbVie’s testosterone replacement treatment AndroGel and its anti-seizure medication Depakote have also led to lawsuits.
Humira lawsuits blame the drug for fungal infections, nerve damage, and an increased risk of cancer in children and adolescents. In 2013, a jury ordered AbbVie to pay $2.24 million to a patient who suffered from a fungal infection. Some patients have died from these infections, according to the FDA.
More than 7,750 men have filed testosterone lawsuits against AbbVie and other manufacturers of testosterone replacement therapy products. Nearly 6,000 remained pending in federal court in Illinois in June 2018. AndroGel lawsuits blame the product for blood clots, heart attack, stroke and sudden death.
Depakote lawsuits say children suffered birth defects after their mothers took Depakote during pregnancy. AbbVie assumed all rights and responsibilities for Depakote when it separated from Abbott. In June 2018, a judge halted more than 600 lawsuits so lawyers on both sides could discuss settlements.
AbbVie has had to recall some of its products. Reasons include labeling errors, possible contamination and harmful drug effects.
Its multiple sclerosis drug Zinbryta was pulled from the shelves altogether in March 2018. It led to the deaths of three patients. The drug was a joint venture with Biogen.
Reason for recall
Labeling error; a bottle contained a lower dose
Reason for recall
Single vial contained a free-flowing glass particle
Zinbryta (MS drug)
Reason for recall
Reports of serious inflammatory brain disorders, including encephalitis and meningoencephalitis, and patient deaths; possible severe immune reactions affecting other body organs
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
- Abbott Laboratories
- AbbVie Inc
- Boehringer Ingelheim
- Boston Scientific
- Bristol-Myers Squibb
- C.R. Bard
- Cook Medical
- Daiichi Sankyo
- Eli Lilly & Co.
- Endo International and American Medical Systems
- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
- Johnson & Johnson
- Merck & Co.
- Stryker Corporation
- Takeda Pharmaceuticals