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Abbott Laboratories Message Board

  • i_am_a_muggle i_am_a_muggle Oct 29, 2002 5:35 PM Flag

    Crains Chicago Business

    Abbott to build $350M plant for arthritis drug
    By Kelly Quigley

    Abbott Laboratories Inc. on Tuesday said it plans to build a $350-million biotechnology manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico that will produce its new rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira and other pharmaceutical products.

    Construction of the new plant will begin immediately, the company said. The expansion will create more than 200 new jobs�as well as some 800 temporary construction jobs�and will add will add 104 acres to Abbott�s existing operations in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.

    The first drug to be manufactured at the site will be Humira, also known as D2E7, which treats rheumatoid arthritis. The product is pending approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European regulators, and is expected to hit the market by the second quarter of 2003.

    North Chicago-based Abbott said construction of the new plant, in addition to the company's recent biologics manufacturing expansion at the Abbott Bioresearch Center in Worcester, Mass., is part of a plan to ensure long-term production capacity for commercial biologic products.

    Until the Puerto Rico plant is completed, the Worcester facility will handle current production demands, Abbott said.

    Analysts and Abbott executives believe that Humira, or D2E7, has enormous potential for success. Clinical trials have confirmed that it is effective in treating the debilitating rheumatoid arthritis disease, and the market for such a drug is estimated to be huge.

    Humira "has continued to show extraordinary promise," Abbott Chairman and CEO Miles D. White told shareholders at the company�s annual meeting this summer. "We believe this drug will dramatically improve the lives of the millions of people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis" (Crain�s, May 6).

    Neil B. Sweig, an analyst at New York institutional brokerage Fulcrum Global Partners LLC, calculated the total U.S. market for treatment of the disease at upwards of $5 billion annually. He figures that Humira, if it is released to the market in the first half of next year, will do as much as $200 million in 2003 sales, $1 billion by 2005 or 2006 and eventually reach $2 billion in annual sales, qualifying it as a blockbuster drug.

    Shares of Abbott were trading down $1.15, or nearly 3%, to $41.43 on Tuesday afternoon.

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