May 1, 2020 / 12:54 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-AbbVie sees substantial hit to Botox from pandemic, lowers Humira growth forecast

(Adds company comment from conference call, updates shares)

By Manas Mishra and Vishwadha Chander

May 1 (Reuters) - AbbVie Inc on Friday said it expects the coronavirus outbreak to substantially limit sales of Botox and similar aesthetic products that the U.S. drugmaker is set to acquire through its buyout of Allergan Plc.

The blockbuster wrinkle treatment, which has both cosmetic and medical uses, was among the main drivers of AbbVie’s $63 billion deal for Allergan, which is expected to close later this month.

Botox is administered by plastic surgeons and other specialists that have either been shuttered with other non-essential businesses or seen customers avoiding unnecessary contact amid stay-at-home measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

However, AbbVie hopes to see a quick recovery in Allergan’s medical aesthetics business as restrictions are eased across the United States and Europe.

“We remain confident that the expected near-term impact, while likely substantial, will be transient, with the aesthetics business quickly ramping back to normalized trends,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Gonzalez said on a conference call.

Gonzalez did not comment on Allergan’s financial results as the details were not yet public.

Also on Friday, AbbVie maintained its 2020 profit forecast even after reporting first-quarter earnings that exceeded Wall Street estimates, on the strength of its flagship rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira, the world’s top-selling medicine.

Humira sales rose 5.8% to $4.70 billion for the quarter despite declines outside the United States, where it has begun facing competition from cheaper biosimilar versions.

Humira is expected to lose patent protection in the United States, its largest market, in 2023, which is part of the reason for the Allergan acquisition.

The company lowered its 2020 forecast for U.S. Humira sales growth to 7% from 9%, as it expects the coronavirus crisis to push more patients to lower-paying government health plans from commercial health insurance.

AbbVie still expects full-year earnings of $9.61 to $9.71 per share, which assumes European and U.S. stay-at-home restrictions will be gradually lifted starting this month, the company said.

Sales of AbbVie’s new psoriasis drug, Skyrizi, were $300 million. But the company noted that new patient additions were hurt by people avoiding doctor visits during the pandemic.

Total sales rose 10.1% to $8.62 billion in the quarter, topping analysts’ estimates of $8.33 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.42 per share, beating estimates by 17 cents.

AbbVie shares were up 1.7% at $83.58 on a down day for the broader market. (Reporting by Manas Mishra and Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru and Carl O’Donnell in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Bill Berkrot)

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