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Abbott releases Humira data for back disease

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Abbott Laboratories reported Monday that its blockbuster drug Humira showed positive results in treating symptoms of an inflammatory joint disease that causes back pain.

The North Chicago, Ill., company released results from an ongoing study of adults with active non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, an arthritis-like disease that affects the spinal column. Humira is already approved to treat patients with a form of the disease that can be identified by radiographic imaging, or X-ray.

After 12 weeks of therapy, Abbott reported that patients taking the drug showed a statistically significant improvement in physical function and quality of life, based on answers to a questionnaire.

More than 36 percent of patients taking Humira achieved an improvement of 40 percent or more on a questionnaire for spondyloarthritis patients. That was significantly more than 15 percent of patients on placebo who experienced the same benefit.

Humira is Abbott's biggest-selling drug, with worldwide sales of $4.26 billion in the first half of 2012. The injectable drug is already approved as a treatment for chronic plaque psoriasis and as a treatment for symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and Crohn's disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease.