Abbott's deal-team delivers $1.35B Galapagos RA pact

Still wheeling and dealing as it lays the foundation for an independent pharma operation, Abbott ($ABT) today revealed that it is paying Belgian biotech Galapagos $150 million upfront to license in a promising oral treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. And it will pony up an additional $200 million if Galapagos can deliver positive Phase II data, along with a billion dollars in potential milestones.

The object of Abbott's affection is GLPG0634, a JAK1 inhibitor that Galapagos has been developing for RA and other autoimmune diseases. The JAK, or Janus kinases, are a group of enzymes responsible for triggering autoimmune diseases.

"We are excited to continue the Phase II trials and expect to deliver to Abbott a complete Phase II package in 2014," said Onno van de Stolpe, the CEO at Galapagos. "With GLPG0634 we have proven that we can deliver from target to clinical proof of concept, and we aim to do the same on many novel target programs in our pipeline. This collaboration is transformational for Galapagos, providing the means to progress these innovative products into the clinic."

Back in the fall of 2010, Abbott agreed to pay Reata Pharmaceuticals $450 million in near-term cash in exchange for ex-U.S. rights to the chronic kidney disease drug bardoxolone. Then late last year Abbott proffered a $400 million upfront fee to gain rights to Reata's second-gen drug portfolio. This new pact underscores that the pharma side of Abbott, which is being spun out on its own later this year, has the cash and ambition to strike big-dollar partnerships.

- here's the press release

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