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AbbVie's profit beats on Humira, Imbruvica demand

[BENGALURU] US drugmaker AbbVie reported quarterly earnings on Friday that edged past analysts'expectations, helped by robust demand for its flagship rheumatoid arthritis drug, Humira.

Sales of Humira, the world's top selling drug, rose 13.7 per cent to US$4.72 billion in the second quarter ended June 30, beating analysts' average estimate of US$4.64 billion, according to Barclays.

Humira, which is used to treat autoimmune disorders, faces looming competition from copycat versions in the United States.

AbbVie has been trying to block the launch of Amgen's Humira knock-off. Meanwhile, earlier this year, the US patent office ruled in favor of Coherus Biosciences' Humira copy, in a move that analysts say could advance its US launch by a year.

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AbbVie's cancer drug Imbruvica, which it jointly owns with Johnson & Johnson, raked in sales of US$626 million, above consensus estimates of US$609 million.

However, sales of its hepatitis C treatment, Viekira Pak, came at US$225 million, well below consensus expectations of US$257 million.

Another hepatitis C regimen from AbbVie is expected to hit the market later this year and could eat into the sales of rival products from Gilead Sciences and Merck & Co.

AbbVie's net earnings rose to US$1.92 billion, or US$1.19 per share in the second quarter, from US$1.61 billion, or 98 US cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned US$1.42 per share, beating analysts' estimates of US$1.40 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

AbbVie's net revenue rose 7.6 per cent to US$6.94 billion. Analysts on average had expected US$6.93 billion.

Shares of the company, which maintained its forecast for full-year adjusted profit, were marginally up at US$72 in premarket trading.