Lilly pays $90 million for autoimmune drug

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Eli Lilly and Co., in a bid to beef up its pipeline of medications for autoimmune diseases, is paying $90 million for the global rights to an experimental drug being tested as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

The drug, which is being developed by Delaware-based Incyte Corp., blocks the functioning a group of enzymes known as JAK, which play a role in some autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Lilly also acquired the rights to later drugs using the same JAK inhibiting technology.

If the drug makes it to market, Indianapolis-based Lilly could pay another $665 million to Incyte for reaching various milestones along the way. Also, Lilly agreed to share royalties from any sales of the drug. The drug, a pill taken orally, is being tested in patients in a Phase 2 clinical trial.

Due to the transaction, Lilly expects to incur a fourth-quarter charge of 5 cents per share. However, the company reaffirmed its full-year profit forecast of $3.90 to $4.00 per share.

"This new alliance with Incyte reinforces Lilly’s commitment to expand our presence in inflammation and autoimmunity through the development of a new class of oral anti-inflammatory therapies," said Dr. Eiry Roberts, Lilly’s vice president for autoimmune product development.

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