AbbVie (ABBV 0.07%) could be poised for a great year. The company will close its acquisition of drug manufacturer Allergan (AGN) early this year, which will help pad AbbVie's results, add more products into its portfolio, and diversify its revenue stream by adding more brands.
There's one drug in particular that investors should be excited about, because of its potential to drive significant growth for the company: Ubrelvy.
FDA approves Ubrelvy for migraines
In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Allergan's Ubrelvy drug to treat migraines in adults. Patients can take Ubrelvy orally, and unlike other migraine drugs in the market, they can take it after the migraine has begun, rather than beforehand.
It's an exciting development for the company. In its release, the FDA noted that "Ubrelvy represents an important new option for the acute treatment of migraine in adults, as it is the first drug in its class approved for this indication."
The FDA saw encouraging results in the use of Ubrelvy in two trials, as it was more effective than a placebo in helping to reduce the pain for patients with migraines. Many patients saw relief after just two hours. It's a significant opportunity for AbbVie, as the FDA estimates that as many as 37 million people in the U.S. experience migraines.
Allergan to have product ready to go in the first quarter
As a result of the approval, the company announced that Ubrelvy will be available for sale as early as the first quarter of 2020. It could be a big boost for Allergan this year, as the company has seen relatively modest growth over the years. In 2018, sales of $15.8 billion were down from the prior-year tally of $15.9 billion and grew just 8% over the course of two years.
Some estimates have global sales for Ubrelvy reaching $486 million by 2025. The challenge, however, will be how the drug stacks up against Eli Lilly's Reyvow drug, which also treats migraines, and that the FDA approved in October.
Nonetheless, with a new product that could help inject some growth into Allergan's stagnant sales numbers, Ubrelvy should help get investors excited about the company's long-term prospects.
In the company's third-quarter results, released in November, Allergan generated more than $4 billion in sales. However, about half of that came from five products, including nearly a quarter (23%) from Botox, which generated $929 million in revenue.
Allergan needs diversification, as does AbbVie. Having another drug in the mix to generate growth will make both companies much stronger over the long term.
Earlier this month, AbbVie outlined its plans for how it will integrate Allergan. Aside from Allergan Aesthetics, which will operate as an individual unit, AbbVie will integrate the remainder of the business into its operations. Botox, however, will be split with AbbVie taking the therapeutics part of the business while Allergan Aesthetics will include the cosmetic piece.
Strong contributions from Allergan could help AbbVie's stock soar
Any time there's a big acquisition, especially one that's worth $63 billion, there will be questions and plenty of skeptics wondering if it's a good move for the company. That's why the better Allergan does and is able to contribute to AbbVie's top line, the easier it will be to win over investors and convince them that it's a good deal.
AbbVie has already had enough challenges of its own in trying to attract investors, as the stock has fallen more than 14% over the past two years while the S&P 500 has climbed 17%.
Its struggles stem from a lack of growth in its key product, Humira, which treats patients with autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, and accounts for more than half of its sales. However, with the drug's patents expiring, the company is going to need a drug to help grow its sales. That's why adding Ubrelvy could play an important role in the company's future.
With AbbVie's acquisition of Allergan expected to close early this year and the potential benefits of Ubrelvy sales, 2020 could be a good year for the healthcare stock, and its top and bottom lines could come in better than expected.