BioWorld International Correspondent

SYDNEY, Australia - Peptech Ltd. has settled a potentially damaging licensing dispute with Abbott Laboratories by renegotiating its previous agreement with the U.S. company.

Media reports stated that Peptech will gain 2 percent in royalties of the expected hundreds of millions of dollars in sales for Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott's rheumatoid arthritis drug, Humira. The stock market saw the deal as good news, pushing Peptech's share price up by 23 percent to A$1.73 (US$1.24) when the announcement was made last week. The stock closed Friday at A$1.65.

Peptech Chairman Mel Bridges declined to provide details of the new contract, saying that it was confidential. He did say that his company was happy with the changes, and that it certainly was better off in the short term.

However, in the long term Peptech might be worse off, depending on what happens, he said.

Last week's announcement does not end Peptech's licensing disputes. It also is fighting to establish rights to a royalty stream from another rheumatoid arthritis treatment, Remicade, marketed by Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J. That dispute is still in arbitration, with a decision expected next year.

Peptech did not develop the drugs, which use tumor necrosis factor targeting antibodies, but holds key patents over the antibody.