At a glance: Abbott targets new indication for Humira

Pharma company Abbott says it wants at least one new indication for its anti-arthritis product Humira, which launched in the UK in 2003. This year it hopes to be able to promote Humira as a treatment for ankylosing spondylitis, the condition by which some or all of the joints and bones of the spine fuse together.

So what's happening on the PR front?
In the UK, PR is led by senior comms manager Jennifer Campbell. The campaign will concentrate on educating healthcare professionals
on the potential benefits of the product. Abbott has taken on Fleishman-Hillard to handle PR and PA, as well.

What indications does Humira have at present?
For the treatment of two types of arthritis. The first is rheumatoid arthritis, characterised by inflammation of the lining of joints. The
second is psoriatic arthritis, related to psoriasis, which causes pain
and swelling in joints as well as scaly skin patches.

What's the competition?
Humira attaches itself to a protein called tumour necrosis factor (TNF), preventing the protein from signalling the release of the substances that cause arthritis. The other anti-TNF agents available are Remicade (from Schering-Plough) and Enbrel (Amgen/Wyeth).

Didn't I just see Humira in the news?
Yes. It achieved sales of £790m ($1.4bn) in 2005, putting it well past the magic $1bn mark which confers blockbuster status. Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT), the UK biotech outfit which isolated the original antibody that eventually became Humira, was trumpeting the sales figures last week.

But wasn't there something else?
In October last year, business pages were awash with the settlement of a dispute between CAT and Abbott over royalties. CAT got royalty payments of 2.7 per cent for Humira plus lump sum payments over the next five years.

And CAT promotes Humira, too?
No. Although CAT gets royalties from the drug, Abbott holds the licence and handles all PR and marketing worldwide. The main interest now in Humira, says CAT corporate comms director Rowena Gardner, is explaining to shareholders how well the product is doing.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in