AbbVie, Ablynx sign deal for investigative autoimmune drug

Deal worth more than $800 million

GHENT, Belgium — Belgian drug maker Ablynx is licensing an experimental treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus to U.S. drug maker AbbVie in a deal worth up to $840 million, the companies said.

The two drug makers announced that AbbVie would license the drug ALX-0061 for an upfront payment of $175 million plus milestone payments worth up to $665 million, as well as royalties. The drug belongs to a class known as anti-interleukin-6R nanobodies, which work by targeting an immune-system protein pathway that plays a key role in the inflammation associated with RA.

Under the deal, Ablynx will complete the mid-stage clinical trials of the drug currently underway in patients with RA and systemic lupus erythematosus. After fulfilling pre-defined success criteria, AbbVie will in-license the drug and be responsible for late-stage development and commercialization, while Abblynx will have an option for co-promotion in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

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