AbbVie, Inc. & Abbott Laboratories, Inc.

AbbVie, Inc. was established in 2013, after being spun off from Abbott Laboratories, Inc. The pharmaceutical company markets a wide variety of medications, including the AndroGel testosterone treatment.

Abbott Laboratories History

Abbott Laboratories, Inc. was founded in 1888 by Dr. Wallace C. Abbott in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Abbott started out selling tiny pills, called “dosimetric granules,” from medicinal plants in his drug store. By 1910, his catalog had grown to include some 700 products.  Dr. Abbott would go on to launch affiliates in San Francisco, New York, and Seattle. In 1907, the company opened its first international branch in London.

In 2014, Abbott Laboratories recorded revenues of $20.2 billion. The company now has 73,000 employees and operates in more than 150 countries. Abbott’s headquarters are in Lake Bluff, Illinois.

The AbbVie Spinoff

In 2011, Abbott Laboratories announced it would split into two publicly-traded companies. The new entity would be called AbbVie, Inc., and would specialize in diversified products including medical devices, diagnostic equipment and nutrition products. Abbott Laboratories would operate as a research-based pharmaceutical manufacturer.

AbbVie was officially listed on the New York Stock Exchange on January 2, 2013. The company employed more than 28,000 people around the world as of December 2015, and markets its products in more than 170 countries. AbbVie recorded sales of $18.8 billion in its first year, growing to $20 billion in 2014. The company’s top-selling drugs include Humira, an anti-inflammatory used to treat arthritis, and AndroGel.

AndroGel was originally developed by Abbott Laboratories. The medication is currently marketed by AbbVie in the U.S. and sold by Abbott oversees.  In 2012, Abbott spent some $80 million marketing the prescription testosterone treatment. In 2013, the medication generated $1.6 billion in sales. By 2015, AndroGel held 60% of the low-T therapy market.

AbbVie’s other best-selling drugs include the painkiller Vicodin, and the cholesterol medications Niaspan and Tricor.

AndroGel Litigation

In 2015, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began investigating AndroGel and other prescription testosterone treatments, after several studies suggested the drugs might increase cardiovascular risks in certain men. In March 2015, the agency required that new information regarding a possible increased risk of heart attack and stroke be added to the labels of all low-T therapy medications, including AndroGel.

By 2016, more than 5,000 testosterone lawsuits had been filed against the manufacturers of AndroGel and other testosterone replacement therapies. The majority of cases were brought on behalf of men who allegedly suffered heart attacks, strokes and blood clots due to their use of AndroGel. Federal lawsuits involving the low-T therapy are scheduled to begin in June 2017.

  1. Abbott Laboratories, Inc. (N.D.) “Our Heritage”
  2. FDA (January 2014) “FDA evaluating risk of stroke, heart attack and death with FDA-approved testosterone products”
  3. FDA (March 2015) “FDA cautions about using testosterone products for low testosterone due to aging; requires labeling change to inform of possible increased risk of heart attack and stroke with use”
Last Modified: June 20, 2016

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