Abbott offers free Humira to Medicare seniors

Senior citizens on Medicare who do not have prescription drug coverage will be able to receive free prescriptions of Abbott's new rheumatoid arthritis drug, Humira, the company announced on Monday.

Abbott said it would continue to offer the free medicine until Congress passes a Medicare drug benefit program. President Bush and Congressional leaders have promised a drug coverage plan for Medicare recipients, but a bill has yet to be signed into law. This issue is expected to dominate the new session of Congress.

Humira won FDA approval on December 31 and will compete for the rheumatoid arthritis market against Johnson & Johnson's Remicade and Amgen's Enbrel. Industry experts believe Abbott's drug might generate as much as $1 billion in annual sales because it's easier to administer and may be safer.

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