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About Abbvie Inc.

AbbVie is vying for dominance in the world of medications. The firm develops and commercializes biopharmaceutical and small molecule drugs, with a focus on immunology, oncology, virology, and neuroscience. Its primary product is Humira, best known as a rheumatoid arthritis drug; it accounts for some 60% of sales and is the world's top-selling prescription drug. Other key products include cancer treatment Imbruvica and hepatitis C drug Mavyret. Products are sold globally, but the US is AbbVie's largest market. With the pending expiration of Humira's patent protection, AbbVie is looking for the next big thing. It might have found it with its agreement to buy Allergan for $63 billion in 2019.


AbbVie focuses on treating conditions such as chronic autoimmune diseases (including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn's disease), cancers, and viral conditions (including hepatitis C and HIV). It also has products that address metabolic or hormonal conditions, endocrinology ailments, and neurological disorders (including Parkinson's disease).

Top product Humira is a biologic therapy that treats several autoimmune conditions and generates nearly $20 billion in sales, or about 60% of total revenue. Humira sales continue to grow despite patent protection loss in Europe in 2018; US protection will last until 2023. Leukemia and lymphoma drug Imbruvica and hepatitis C medication Mavyret each account for 10% of sales. Other major offerings include Creon (enzyme insufficiency), Lupron (endometriosis), Synthroid (hyperthyroidism), and Synagis (respiratory syncytial virus). 

The company has a pipeline of medications in clinical development that covers such areas as oncology, neurology, immunology, cystic fibrosis, and women's health. It has a number of partnerships with other pharma firms to develop new treatments, including Alector (Alzheimer's disease), and Calico Life Sciences (age-related diseases).

Geographic Reach

AbbVie collects about two-thirds of sales from the US. Key foreign markets include Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK. 

The Chicago-based company has six primary manufacturing facilities in the US (in Illinois, Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, and Michigan) and five key international plants (in Italy, Ireland, Germany, Singapore). It operates seven US R&D facilities in Illinois, California, and Massachusetts, as well as one R&D center in Germany.

Sales and Marketing

AbbVie uses a combination of direct and third-party resources to market and sell its products worldwide. In the US, AbbVie markets directly to physicians, consumers, managed care providers, insurers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), hospitals, and government agencies (including the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense). Products are primarily distributed through independent wholesalers; some sales are made directly to pharmacies and patients. Internationally, AbbVie principally markets to payers, physicians, and regulatory bodies and sells products directly and through distributors.

Three wholesale distributors -- McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen -- account for nearly all of US sales. Reliance on these firms could leave AbbVie vulnerable to distribution issues should any of them face financial difficulties or switch to alternative products.

AbbVie spent $1.1 billion on advertising in 2018, versus $846 million in 2017 and $764 million in 2016.

Financial Performance

AbbVie has seen steady revenue growth since its 2013 spin-off from former parent Abbott Labs. Overall, sales increased about 65% between 2014 and 2018 as the company added indications for Humira and expanded its product portfolio through acquisitions and new drug launches. The firm is confident that its expansion efforts will make up for sales losses from the impending Humira patent loss, which has already taken effect in European markets. Net income has fluctuated but has remained in the $5 billion range for the past four years.

In 2018 revenue grew 16% to $32.8 billion as sales of Humira continued to grow, primarily in the US (thanks largely to its approval for new indications and favorable pricing); international Humira sales increased slightly despite loss of patent protection in the European Union. Increased sales of Imbruvica, Mavyret, and Venclexta also contributed to growth. US sales rose 18% and international revenue rose 13%. Revenue growth was marginally offset by declining sales of drugs including Viekira, AndroGel, and Kaletra.

Net income rose 7% in 2018 to some $5.7 billion, primarily due to income tax benefits related to the 2017 Tax Act. The increase occurred despite higher operating costs from R&D programs, production expenses, and sales and administrative expenses.

AbbVie ended 2018 with $7.3 billion in cash, down $2 billion from 2017. Operating activities contributed $13.4 billion, while investing activities used $1 billion (mostly on property and equipment acquisitions and other acquisitions and investments), and financing activities used $14.4 billion via treasury stock purchases and paid dividends.


Facing the patent expiration of top-selling drug Humira, AbbVie is focused on maintaining a strong R&D pipeline. The company has more than 60 compounds or indications in the pipeline, including treatments in immunology, oncology, neuroscience, cystic fibrosis, and women's health. If candidates successfully reach the market, the expensive and often risky pharmaceutical development process pays off for the company. Recent product approvals include hepatitis C treatment Mavyret (2017), myeloid leukemia drug Venclexta (2018) and endometriosis medication Orilissa (2018). AbbVie plans to keep adding to its research programs 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 2019, AbbVie agreed to buy Allergan for $63 billion. The purchase would bring a raft of treatments such as Botox to AbbVie. The deal is expected to close in early 2020.

Humira -- the world's top-selling prescription medicine -- 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. The company expects that Humira will face biosimilar competition in the US in 2023. To maintain sales of Humira as long as possible, the company is working to expand indications for the blockbuster drug, maintain market leadership in existing categories, and increase its presence in international markets where patent protection remains.

Thanks to years of revenue growth, the company in 2018 announced a five-year plan 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

In 2019, AbbVie agreed to buy fellow drugmaker Allergan for $63 billion. The purchase will boost the company's revenue as it looks for a Humira replacement. Allergan will add new product lines including beauty medications (such as Botox) and eye care treatments (such as Restasis), as well as offerings that compliment AbbVie's offerings in neurology, digestive diseases, women's health, and other fields. The deal is expected to close in early 2020.

Company Background

Biopharmaceutical research company AbbVie was formed in 2012 by former parent Abbott Labs, which spun off AbbVie into a separate publicly-traded company in 2013. As the company faced the patent expirations of many of its top sellers in the following years (including Aluvia, TriCor, Niaspan, and Humira), it focused on expanding its R&D operations.

After a failed attempt to purchase Irish rare-disease medication manufacturer Shire for $54 billion in 2014, AbbVie instead pumped up its oncology pipeline by acquiring Pharmacyclics for $20.8 billion in 2015 and Stemcentrx for $5.8 billion in 2016.

Abbvie Inc.

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

Firm Stats

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