Abbott touts positive Parkinson's Phase III as pharma split looms

Banking on double-digit earnings growth and a string of pipeline deals and developments, Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) execs said they are "on track" to go ahead and spin off the pharma side of the business later this year. And in a separate announcement, the company touted positive late-stage results for its gel therapy for Parkinson's disease.

CEO Miles D. White said the first quarter results persuaded the company to raise its guidance for the year, adding that "we remain focused on the process of separating Abbott into two leading healthcare companies, which remains on track to be completed by the end of the year."

On the pharma side, investigators reported that a gel formulation of levodopa-carbidopa helped amp up Parkinson's patients "on" times, reducing their exposure to poor motor functions, which is a classic symptom of the disease. Inserted into the small intestine with the use of a portable pump, patients were dosed over a 12-week period. Mean "off" time for patients was reduced by close to two hours a day compared with the tablet arm of the study.

"These results demonstrate that continuous delivery of levodopa-carbidopa intestinal gel produces statistically meaningful improvements in advanced PD patients by decreasing 'off' time and increasing 'on' time without troublesome dyskinetic symptoms," said Mount Sinai's Dr. C.W. Olanow. "These benefits in a patient group that cannot be satisfactorily controlled with standard levodopa, represent an important step forward in our efforts to treat advanced PD patients."

Abbott's been making a number of advances on the pharma front in recent months. Just days ago Abbott posted promising results from its mid-stage study of a new hepatitis C treatment, the protease inhibitor ABT-450. And late last year Abbott expanded on its partnership with Reata Pharmaceuticals. 

- get the press release on the Parkinson's study
- read the release on earnings
- here's the Dow Jones report