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updated: 9/24/2013 10:25 AM

North Chicago's AbbVie to study cystic fibrosis drugs

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Associated Press

North Chicago-based AbbVie said Tuesday that it will study treatments for cystic fibrosis with Dutch drug developer Galapagos NV. The deal could be worth more than $405 million to Galapagos.

The companies will study oral drugs designed to target and correct the main genetic mutations seen in cystic fibrosis patients, and they want to begin early-stage clinical testing by the end of 2014.

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AbbVie, based in North Chicago, Ill., said it will pay Galapagos $45 million upfront. The deal also includes up to $360 million based on development and regulatory milestones for the drugs and sales targets if any products are approved. Galapagos would also receive royalties on sales of any approved drugs.

AbbVie will be responsible for marketing the drugs in most countries. Galapagos will have the right to market any approved drugs in China and South Korea and will have co-promotion rights in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

Cystic fibrosis is a disease that causes sticky mucus buildup in the lungs and other organs, leading to infections, digestive problems and death in young adulthood. AbbVie and Galapagos said there are about 70,000 patients in the world. In 2012 regulators approved the first drug designed to treat the root cause of the disease. That drug, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Kalydeco, is only approved to treat a very rare type of cystic fibrosis. However Vertex is trying to expand that approval.

AbbVie shares fell 82 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $46.28 in morning trading Tuesday. They are near the upper end of their 52-week range of $33.33 to $48.42.

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