La Jolla, Abbott to Develop Lupus Drug

Times Staff and Wire Reports

Abbott Laboratories said it will invest $50 million or more to help La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co. develop a lupus drug. Abbott will fund development of the drug, known as LJP 394 during its clinical trials, and make payments to La Jolla based on the progress and results of the studies. The total investment in license, equity and milestone payments is valued at more than $50 million. The drug, designed to reduce the antibodies thought to cause kidney disease in lupus patients, already is in late-stage clinical trials. If the drug wins approval by the Food and Drug Administration, San Diego-based La Jolla Pharmaceutical will manufacture it, sell it to Abbott, and receive royalty and sales incentive payments. Lupus is a potentially fatal disease where the immune system attacks the body's connective tissue, causing painful inflammation and affecting the body's kidney and other systems. There is no cure for the illness, which affects more than 500,000 Americans. Shares in La Jolla Pharmaceutical rose $1.55 to close at $5.75 on Nasdaq. Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott's shares rose 25 cents to close at $52.75 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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