AbbVie continues to be what’s wrong with big pharma

SUMMARY: AbbVie continues to profit from Americans by repeatedly raising U.S. prices on its widely-used Humira rheumatoid arthritis drug while cutting the price abroad. AbbVie exploits the U.S. patent system to fend off competitors and increased the price of Humira to $77,000 for a year’s supply, while the price of its cancer drug Imbruvica was raised to $181,529 per year.

I continue to believe that there are very good people who care about patients working within pharma but it’s hard to understand how anyone who works for AbbVie can feel good about their employer.

According to Reuters “drugmakers hiked U.S. prices on seven of the 10 costliest prescription drugs in 2020 without justification, increasing drug spending by $1.67 billion, a U.S. group that reviews the value of medicines said on Tuesday. AbbVie Inc’s widely used Humira rheumatoid arthritis drug accounted for the majority of the spending increase, with a net price increase of 9.6% leading to an almost $1.4 billion increase in U.S. spending”.

The Boston-based Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) said in a report that after reviewing published studies and input from drug manufacturers it found no evidence of new clinical benefits to justify the price hikes.


Using pricing data from 2019 and 2020, ICER pegged Humira’s net price increase at 9.6% and its wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) increase at 7.3%, resulting in an increase to U.S. drug spending of $1.395 billion, the report says. The total impact on U.S. drug spending of all seven products ICER flagged was $1.67 billion, suggesting Humira was largely to blame for new spending unsupported by new clinical data.

But AbbVie isn’t done. According to Fierce Pharma “AbbVie has filed for 165 patents on Imbruvica, and officials have granted 88 of them, the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge reports. The company’s add-on patents have earned AbbVie another nine years of patent protection for a total of 29 years of commercial exclusivity, according to the group. AbbVie filed 55% of Imbruvica’s patent applications after FDA approval, the report said”.

So how do people who work for AbbVie feel? They can rationalize that their drugs help patients and that they are removed from the “business end” of the business but the fact remains that they are raping our healthcare system and costing every taxpayer.

AbbVie is one of the many reasons why voters are sick of high drug prices and want price negotiations for Medicare. I’m reminded of a quote from the movie Wall Street “how much is enough?”.