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AbbVie board OKs $1.5B for share buybacks

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (AP) -- Drugmaker AbbVie Inc., spun off from Abbott Laboratories in January, approved $1.5 billion for buying back its own shares.

The company expects the stock purchases to be completed over several years. Buybacks can make shareholders' existing holdings more valuable and boost earnings per share.

AbbVie, based in North Chicago, Ill., sells branded prescription drugs, including the blockbuster anti-inflammatory drug Humira, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn's Disease.

Abbott, meanwhile, will continue marketing the company's remaining products: Nutritional formula, generic drugs and medical devices.

Company shares rose 98 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $37.55 in premarket trading.