Bru-te force

How AbbVie expects Imbruvica to make back its $21B for Pharmacyclics

AbbVie Inc.'s failed attempt to buy Shire plc last year was based on the expected savings from tax inversion and the opportunity to diversify its pipeline. This time around, the pharma's purchase of Pharmacyclics Inc. is treading more familiar territory: augmenting its hematologic oncology pipeline with a marketed drug with enormous potential and a sales team to support it.

If successful, AbbVie will create the same kind of franchise with Imbruvica ibrutinib that it created in autoimmune disease with Humira adalimumab.

On a March 12 investor call, Chairman and CEO Richard Gonzalez said AbbVie would get its money's worth from the $21 billion deal to acquire Pharmacyclics by building Imbruvica, which he described as a "pipeline in a drug," into a franchise, just as it did with Humira.

"It's a mechanism that looks to be broadly applicable across B cell malignancies, and potentially even further than that. Much like how Humira was expanded across the anti-TNF indications," he said.

Pharmacyclics has guided for $1 billion in sales this year,

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