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AbbVie shares stumble after downgrade, news report

AbbVie's stock sank more than 3 percent as a string of news weighed on the pharmaceutical company, including an analyst downgrade and a Wall Street Journal report about high drug costs.

Kaletra, AbbVie
Charles Rex Arbogast | AP

Analysts at Cowen and Company downgraded AbbVie to "Market Perform" from "Outperform" and slashed the price target to $70 per share, stating they believed "opportunities now balanced risks." Cowen cited the "underwhelming" data on Rova-T, an experimental treatment for small cell lung cancer, an aggressive, difficult-to-treat form of cancer that accounts for roughly 13 percent to 15 percent of all lung cancers, according to AbbVie.

Over the weekend, Rova-T was featured at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, where AbbVie revealed details about its efficacy. Cowen estimated Rova-T sales of $125 million in 2019, $250 million in 2020 and $1 billion in 2022.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that Abbvie and its partner companies were testing a combination of the drugs Imbruvica and Venclexta to treat a form of leukemia, a regimen that could cost upwards of $100,000 a year. The high prices of these drug combinations have sparked criticism from doctors, patients and insurers, the Journal reported.

AbbVie shares closed at $62.82 Monday. Shares are down nearly 7 percent over the 12 months, but up about 6 percent so far this year.