The world's top-selling drug Humira is about to lose its place due to newly launched biosimilars. Although AbbVie has introduced a new price policy for Humira, market analysts report that the drug’s market share has rapidly fallen due to competition from biosimilars, including Samsung Bioepis’ Imraldi.
According to industry data, Humira sales in the fourth quarter of last year reached US$1.3 billion (about 1.458 trillion won) in the global market excluding the United States, a drop of 17.5 percent compared to the same period last year. Considering the fact that Humira biosimilars were launched in Europe last October and that Europe is the second largest market after the United States, sales of Humira in Europe are estimated to have fallen by about 20 percent.
Developed by American pharmaceutical company AbbVie in 2002, Humira is a biopharmaceutical used for treatment of autoimmune diseases. Humira is regarded as one of the top three global autoimmune disease treatments, along with Remicade (Johnson & Johnson) and Enbrel (Pfizer). Yet its status has been matchless. In 2018 alone, it garnered US$19,936 million (about 22.3 trillion won) in sales, which is equivalent to the total drug sales in Korea.
This is the first time that sales of Humira has fallen on a quarterly basis after ranking number one in global sales for past number of years. Although AbbVie made huge price cuts in some countries in Europe and started with massive marketing, it was not enough to combat new competition from biosimilars. Last year, AbbVie surprised many by dropping the price of Humira by 80 percent in Norway’s national pharmaceutical bidding.
Humira’spoor sales performance in Europe was driven by Samsung Bioepis’ Imraldi, which recorded sales of US$16.7 million (about 18.7 billion won) in the fourth quarter of last year, ranking first in the Humira biosimilar market in Europe. There are three more Humira biosimilars that were launched at the same time, but Imraldi secured an early lead with its patient-friendly characteristics.
With falling European sales, Humira may lose its first place in global sales earlier than expected. Market research firm Evaluate Pharma forecast that Humira will record the highest sales of US$20.97 billion this year and the company will secure its place in 2024 with annual sales of US$15.23 billion. However, analysts report that sales performance may fall early due to competition with biosimilars.