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About Abbvie Inc.

AbbVie is vying for dominance in the world of medications. The firm discovers, develops, and commercializes both biopharmaceutical and small molecule drugs, with a focus on autoimmune diseases, hepatitis C, HIV, and other ailments. Its primary product is Humira, best known as a rheumatoid arthritis drug; it accounts for some 65% of AbbVie's sales and is the world's top-selling prescription drug. Other key products include cancer treatment Imbruvica and hepatitis C drug Viekira. The firm has 11 facilities making products that are available globally. After the expiration of Humira's compound patent protection in late 2016, the R&D firm is looking for the next big thing.


AbbVie's products focus on treating conditions such as chronic autoimmune diseases (including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn's disease), hepatitis C, HIV, endometriosis, thyroid disease, Parkinson's disease, low testosterone, and complications from chronic kidney disease and cystic fibrosis. The company has a pipeline of promising new medications in clinical development that covers such areas as oncology, neurology, and women's health.

The company has a number of partnerships with other pharmaceuticals to develop new treatments. Partners include C2N Diagnostics (Alzheimer's disease), Calico Life Sciences (age-related diseases), and Infinity Pharmaceuticals (cancer).

In addition to its portfolio of existing and developmental drugs, AbbVie's operations include its global R&D apparatus focused on small molecule drugs and biologics and its sales, marketing, and distribution network.

Geographic Reach

AbbVie collects 65% of its sales from the US. Key foreign markets include Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK. The company also has R&D facilities in Germany and has a goal of expanding in emerging markets.

The company has seven R&D facilities in the US (located in Abbott Park, Illinois; Chicago; Redwood City, San Francisco, and Sunnyvale, California; and Cambridge and Worcester, Massachusetts).

Sales and Marketing

AbbVie markets its products to managed care providers including health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), hospitals, and government agencies (including the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense). Its pharmaceutical products are primarily distributed in the US through independent wholesalers; to a lesser extent, it also sells them directly to pharmacies and patients. Internationally, AbbVie principally markets to payors, physicians, and state regulatory bodies.

In 2017, three wholesale distributors -- McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen-- accounted for practically all the company's sales in the US. This reliance on those firms could leave AbbVie vulnerable to distribution issues should any of them face financial difficulties.

AbbVie spent $846 million on advertising in 2017, versus $764 million in 2016 and $704 million in 2015.

Financial Performance

Despite facing a number of patent expirations, AbbView has seen steady growth since its 2013 spin-off from Abbott. In 2017 net revenue grew 10% to $28.2 billion as sales of Humira continued to grow both in the US and abroad (thanks largely to its approval for new indications). Two drugs, cancer treatment Imbruvica and leukemia treatment Viekira, also bring in more than $1 billion in sales each; sales of Imbruvica have more than tripled since 2015. Other products that have performed well include Lupron and Creon.

Net income nearly doubled to $5.1 billion in 2015 after a couple of years of declines. It rose another 16% in 2016 but then fell 11% to $5.3 million in 2017. Despite the higher revenue, AbbVie's operating expenses increased and cut into its bottom line.

Cash flow from operations (which has been erratic) rose 41% to $10 billion in 2017, thanks to positive adjustments to reconcile net earnings to net cash from operating activities. These adjustments ranged from a $1.2 billion tax benefit related to the 2017 Tax Act and changes in fair value of contingent consideration liabilities.


As AbbVie faced the patent expirations of many of its top sellers between 2011 and 2016 (Aluvia, TriCor, Niaspan, Humira), having a strong R&D focus was key to AbbVie's continued success. The company has more than 60 compounds or indications in the pipeline, including treatments in immunology, oncology, neuroscience, hepatitis C, chronic kidney disease, and women's health. If any one of those reaches the market, the risky development process will pay off for the research pharmaceuticals company. The company plans to keep adding to its pipeline through strategic licensing deals and partnerships.

The company also pursues strategic acquisitions to boost its drug development stockpile and lighten its dependence on Humira and other key treatments. In 2016 it acquired Stemcentrx and its potential blockbuster Rova-T for small cell lung cancer, for $5.8 billion. However, Rova-T has had poor results in clinical trials and, in early 2019, AbbVie posted a $4 billion impairment charge on the acquisition.

In a move that speaks to AbbVie's need to get blockbusters on the market soon, the company has a priority review voucher (PRV) which it intends to use for an existing product in development. It purchased the rare pediatric disease PRV, giving it the option to speed up the FDA's review process, for $350 million from United Therapeutics in 2015.

In mid-2017 the FDA approved AbbVie's hepatitis C treatment Mavyret, which should challenge such pricier drugs as Gilead Science's Epclusa and Vosevi. Mavyret performed well in its first year on the market, helping boost AbbVie's net revenue that year. The company then gained US approval for myeloid leukemia drug Venclexta in 2018 (some two years earlier than initially predicted).

AbbVie is also concentrating on boosting sales of Humira -- the world's biggest-selling prescription medicine -- by expanding its share of the market and its presence in underserved markets. In 2017 global Humira sales increased 14%, and the company continues to seek additional indications for the blockbuster drug. However, Humira now faces competition in Europe, where its basic patent expired in October 2018. At the time of the patent expiration, five biosimilars from companies including Amgen and Mylan had gained approval in Europe.

Thanks to years of revenue growth, the company plans to invest some $2.5 billion in capital projects in the US; it is also exploring the expansion of certain domestic facilities.

Mergers and Acquisitions

To pump up its oncology pipeline, AbbVie in 2016 paid $5.8 billion for Stemcentrx, which has four early-stage cancer treatments and the late-stage Rova-T treatment for small-cell lung cancer in clinical testing.

Company Background

Biopharmaceutical research company AbbVie was spun off from its former parent, Abbott Labs, in 2013.

Abbvie Inc.

North Chicago, IL 60064-1802
Phone: 1 (847) 932-7900


Employer Type: Publicly Owned
Stock Symbol: ABBV
Stock Exchange: , NYSE
EVP and CFO: William J. Chase
Chairman and CEO: Richard A. Gonzalez
SVP Operations: Azita Saleki-Gerhardt
Employees (This Location): 277
Employees (All Locations): 30,000

Major Office Locations

North Chicago, IL

Other Locations

North Chicago, IL
Vernon Hills, IL
Waukegan, IL
Worcester, MA
Wyandotte, MI
Barceloneta, PR
Roma, Italy
Rovereto, Italy
La Madeleine De Nonancourt, France
Bruxelles, Belgium