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AbbVie answers Allergan aesthetics worries with separate new unit

January 10, 2020
Life sciences

With AbbVie and Allergan working out the fine print of their $63 billion merger, the future of Allergan’s aesthetics business has been a sticking point for analysts worried about a drag on the new company’s bottom line.

In response, AbbVie came up with a solution: Just keep the aesthetics business separate.

AbbVie will launch Allergan Aesthetics, a global subsidiary under the umbrella of the AbbVie-Allergan merger, once the deal hits its expected close in the first quarter, AbbVie said in a release. The business will market cosmetic Botox as well as dermal filler Juvederm, the Coolsculpting platform, chin-fat-fighter Kybella and more.

Allergan’s other products, including medical Botox and Vraylar, will be integrated into the new merger, AbbVie said.

Carrie Strom, Allergan’s current SVP of U.S. medical aesthetics, will head up Allergan Aesthetics, and she’ll also take the role of senior VP at AbbVie, the company said.

As recently as Monday, at least one analyst expressed concerns about how AbbVie, facing U.S. biosimilar competition to its megablockbuster Humira in 2023, could integrate Allergan’s aesthetics business and also maintain future growth.

In a note to investors, RBC Capital Markets analyst Randall Stanicky––who has made past calls for an Allergan breakup––said AbbVie should take a long look at selling or hiving off Allergan’s aesthetic products in order to focus on the merger’s “core six” products: new launches Skyrizi and Rinvoq, Botox, cancer fighters Imbruvica and Venclexta, and endometriosis med Orilissa.

While the new Allergan Aesthetics business doesn’t immediately answer that call, it could make it much easier in the future for AbbVie to sell or hive off the unit if it proves the profit drag Stanicky fears.

With the aesthetics business now separated, AbbVie can focus on building its own home-grown launches while integrating Allergan’s growing stable of drugs like antipsychotic Vraylar, which has posted 81% prescription growth on the year.

In addition, AbbVie’s psoriasis med Skyrizi and rheumatoid arthritis therapy Rinvoq, launched just months ago, are already outpacing some analysts’ predictions.

Rinvoq in particular is enjoying the “famous AbbVie halo” with physician opinion strongly in its favor, Piper analyst Christopher Raymond said in a December note. Though Rinvoq has hit just $14 million in sales, it’s beating expectations on the reimbursement side, where it’s set to secure access to 75% of the commercial market by this month, according to UBS analyst Navin Jacob.

Altogether, Skyrizi and Rinvoq could hit $11 billion in peak sales with scripts on the way up and market access growing, Jacob told investors last month. That peak would beat even AbbVie’s projection of $10 billion. Driving much of that growth would be Skyrizi, which Jacob said was on track to reach more than $1 billion in global sales in 2021, driven by booming scripts and lucrative indications in its pipeline.

By Kyle Blankenship

Source: Fierce Pharma

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