The End of Humira’s Monopoly

A pharmacy manager at a Publix in Miami. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Over the past 20 years, the biotech company AbbVie has raked in $200 billion in revenue just from sales of its drug Humira, an unprecedented amount in pharmaceutical history. Humira was initially approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis but later earned FDA approval to treat a host of inflammatory diseases.

Now, finally, it has some competition. Amgen this week launched the first generic alternative—or biosimilar—to Humira (adalimumab). That it has taken two decades for this day to arrive is a stinging indictment of the failures of the U.S. drug market to provide life altering medicines at affordable prices. Humira’s monopoly was the result of congressional statutes and federal regulations, allowing Abbvie to raise list prices by 600 percent since the drug’s launch at $522 per 40 milligram syringe. Our analysis at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity shows most of Humira’s revenue came from price increases with little product improvement. 

It will take congressional action to restore a competitive market for pharmaceuticals and prevent monopoly pricing on drugs like Humira in the future.

Biologics vs. pharmaceuticals.

Start a Free Trial
Get every newsletter and all of The Dispatch. Support quality, fact-based journalism. Get Started ALREADY HAVE AN ACCOUNT? SIGN IN
Comments (43)
Join The Dispatch to participate in the comments.
Load More