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The four drugs belong to a class known as TNF-alpha blockers, and are considered a mainstay for treating rheumatoid arthritis, a disabling disease in which the immune system attacks the joints. They are also used to treat Crohn's disease, juvenile arthritis, certain types of psoriasis, and other immune system disorders. All are taken by injection.
Separately, the FDA is investigating a possible link between the four medications and cancer in young patients. The agency said earlier this year it has received 30 reports of cancers, mainly lymphomas, in patients who began taking the medications when they were 18 or younger. That investigation is expected to take the rest of the year.
Three of the drugs, Enbrel, Humira and Remicade, are considered blockbusters, with sales of over $1 billion annually for each. Cimzia is newer and less widely used.
Humira is sold by North Chicago, Ill.-based Abbott Laboratories Inc; Cimzia by Belgium-based UCB; Enbrel by Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Amgen Inc. and Madison, N.J.-based Wyeth; and Remicade by Horsham, Pa.-based Centocor, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, and Kenilworth, N.J.-based Schering-Plough Inc.
Abbott shares fell $1.36, or 2.4 percent, to close at $56.64 Thursday; Amgen fell $2.22, or 3.5 percent, to $60.88; Wyeth fell $1.54, or 3.6 percent, to $41.47; and Johnson & Johnson fell $1.06 to $70.45.
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