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AbbVie’s Therapies in Virology, Neurology, and Women’s Health

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Mar. 15 2016, Updated 10:06 p.m. ET

Virology, Neurology, and Women’s Health segments

AbbVie (ABBV) has developed a robust research and development (or R&D) pipeline that is expected to generate about $30 billion in sales by 2024. In addition to its Oncology and Immunology segments, AbbVie is focused on launching innovative therapies in its Virology, Neurology, and Women’s Health segments.

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Virology research

On January 11, 2016, AbbVie announced the initiation of six Phase 3 clinical trials to evaluate the company’s pan-genotypic hepatitis C (or HCV) combination therapy. The company expects to launch this therapy in the market in 2017.

Data from the Phase 2 trials for this therapy have displayed high cure rates and have also proved the efficacy of the pan-genotypic regimen when administered only for eight weeks as compared to the standard 12-week therapy. If successful, this therapy could pose strong competition to other HCV players such as Gilead Sciences (GILD), Merck (MRK), and Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY).

Neurology research

AbbVie (ABBV) is focused on developing innovative therapies targeted at patients who have Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (or MS), and Parkinson’s disease. The company expects to obtain approval for Zinbryta, a drug developed in partnership with Biogen for relapsing/remitting MS in the first half of 2016.

Zinbryta is expected to prove to be a strong entrant in the MS injectable therapy segment, as clinical trials have demonstrated that patients treated with the drug displayed a 45% lower annual relapse rates as compared to those treated with Avonex. Additionally, the drug is to be delivered subcutaneously as a once-monthly injection. High efficacy coupled with improved convenience may boost Zinbryta’s future revenues.

In 2015, AbbVie entered into a partnership with C2N Diagnostics to develop drugs for serious neurology conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and supranuclear palsy.

Women’s Health segment

AbbVie is testing Elagolix, a drug targeted at women who have endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Currently in Phase 3 clinical trials, the drug is expected to be a novel oral therapy with minimum side effects in menopausal women.

If AbbVie proves to be successful in these research programs, it should boost the company’s share price and valuations. The VanEck Vectors Pharmaceutical ETF (PPH) is also expected to benefit from positive news related to AbbVie, as the company makes up about 4.9% of PPH’s total holdings.

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