With Abbott's Humira (adalimumab) being reimbursed by 95% of managed care organizations three months after its US launch, the company has re-forecast the product's 2003 results. Abbott is under pressure to build US share rapidly, before the expected 2005 launch of Celltech/Pharmacia/Pfizer's rival rheumatoid arthritis drug CD870.
Abbott Laboratories reported that its rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira had Q1 2003 global sales of $26 million, exceeding company forecasts. The US contributed $24 million, clearly indicating the value of this regional market. Consequently, the planned reimbursement by 95% of US managed care organizations increases the likelihood of stronger prescription growth.
However, Abbott is maintaining its 2004 forecast of $500 million due to uncertainty in the scale of prescription growth. The drug is increasingly being used as salvage therapy in rheumatoid arthritis patients with a severe form of the disease that have been unsuccessfully treated by more established therapies.
To encourage the switching of rheumatoid arthritis patients from Johnson & Johnson's Remicade (infliximab) and Amgen/Wyeth's Enbrel (etanercept), Abbott is highlighting Humira's twice-monthly dosing, efficacy profile and competitive pricing. Enbrel is a subcutaneous therapy injected twice weekly, while Remicade is an intravenous therapy requiring hospital admission. In comparison, Humira's once-fortnightly subcutaneous injection is ideal for long-term therapy.
Furthermore, Humira is reported to have high efficacy due to its status as a fully human monoclonal antibody. This also minimizes the likelihood of the serious side effects that have plagued Enbrel and Remicade.
Abbott is hoping to capitalize on Humira's broad acceptance among physicians, as high reimbursement opportunity will encourage wider use in patients with earlier forms of the disease.
Abbott is also under pressure to increase Humira's US market penetration rapidly due to the threat posed by the expected 2005 launch of Celltech/Pharmacia/Pfizer's CD870, a highly efficacious once-monthly subcutaneous therapy. Therefore, increasing Humira's prescription volume is key to the drug's success.
With a European approval or launch not expected until later this year and cost containment pressure influencing the level of acceptance in North America, the US still remains a major focus for Humira's success.
Related research: Datamonitor, "Reimbursement trends in Europe, Japan and the US" (DMHC1594)
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