AbbVie, Galapagos extend JAK1 pact into Crohn's disease with $50M carrot

AbbVie ($ABBV) has made meds for inflammatory gastrointestinal ills a major theme of its deal-making activities this week. The North Chicago, IL-based drug giant and Belgium's Galapagos ($GLPG) have agreed to expand their collaboration on an oral JAK1 inhibitor to include Crohn's disease.

Galapagos plans to fund and launch a midstage study of the compound, code-named GLPG0634, by early 2014, with results expected by the middle of 2015. Once the company successfully wraps up the study, AbbVie has agreed to pay the biotech outfit $50 million, according to a press release. The agreement expands on the previous deal between the companies to advance the compound for rheumatoid arthritis, a midstage study for which is expected to run in parallel with the Crohn's trial.

The announcement comes on the heels of news this week that AbbVie has partnered with Alvine on a midstage drug in celiac disease, another autoimmune disorder that involves inflammation in the GI tract. AbbVie has an existing stake in the market with its best-selling therapy, Humira, which is marketed for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Crohn's is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects more than 1 million patients in Europe and more than half a million patients in the U.S.

- here's the release