Pharmaceutical company AbbVie will unveil its first-quarter earnings Thursday, giving investors and industry observers their first glimpse of what a full quarter of sales looks like for its new hepatitis C treatment.
The North Chicago, Ill.-based spinoff of Abbott Laboratories received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in December to begin selling Viekira Pak, an oral prescription to treat patients who have hepatitis C. The therapy is a direct competitor to hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni, manufactured by Gilead Sciences.
Viekira Pak's debut set off a price discount war between drug companies and health insurers and pharmacy benefits managers that wanted to lower their specialty drug costs. Prescription drug spending increased 13% in 2014, mostly because of the emergence of breakthrough hepatitis C drugs and other specialty medications, according to an IMS Health study released last week.
Viekira Pak costs $83,000 for a full course of treatment before discounts, while Sovaldi and Harvoni cost $84,000 and $94,500, respectively.
Still, most third-party payers have chosen Harvoni as their preferred drug for hepatitis C patients, because its daily dosage requires taking only one pill. Express Scripts Holding Co., the largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, is one of the few that chose Viekira Pak as its preferred hepatitis C drug.
In the few weeks Viekira Park was on the market in December, AbbVie recorded $48 million in sales.