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Drug makers sign agreement to develop rheumatoid arthritis drug

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SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca and American drug maker Rigel Pharmaceuticals have signed a global licensing agreement to develop and commercialize an investigational drug for rheumatoid arthritis, the two announced Tuesday.

The drug, R788 (fostamitinib disodium) recently completed Phase 2 trials and is entering Phase 3 trials. The drug works by inhibiting the protein spleen tyrosine kinase, a process thought to block the signaling between cells that causes the destruction of bone and cartilage resulting in RA.

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca will pay $100 million up front and up to $345 million in milestone payments. Rigel will also receive up to $800 billion in potential additional milestones, as well as royalties.

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