4 pharmacy trends to watch in 2023: Moody's

The launch of new biosimilars and an uptick in drugmaker transactions are expected to make waves in the pharmaceutical industry over the coming months, Moody's Investment Service said in a quarterly healthcare report issued Jan. 24.

Four takeaways:

1. Three competing biosimilar versions of AbbVie's best-selling rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira are set to launch this year, which will be "a watershed event for the industry," Moody's said. Amgen's drug Amgevita will launch Jan. 31, marking the first time a self-administered biotech drug will face competition from a biosimilar in the U.S. Pharmacy benefit managers will play a large role in determining the uptake of biosimilars and their effect on Humira's sales. Moody's said it expects Humira's U.S. sales — which top $18 billion annually — to fall 45 percent to 55 percent in 2023. 

2. Weight loss drugs will remain popular this year. Treatments for obesity, which affects more than 650 million patients worldwide, are one of the drug industry's largest growth opportunities, according to Moody's. The financial services company said Eli Lilly's Type 2 diabetes treatment Mounjaro may win FDA approval to treat obesity this year, while Novo Nordisk will see growing uptake of its weight loss drugs Saxenda and Wegovy. 

3. A high volume of mergers and acquisitions among drug companies will occur this year, "spurred in part by lower equity valuations of smaller pharmaceutical companies," Moody's predicted. The most popular areas for transactions will be oncology, immunology and rare diseases. 

4. The global generics market will continue to face significant pricing pressures that companies will struggle to offset with new product launches, Moody's said. Over the next year and a half, the number of drugs going generic is expected to modestly grow.

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