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Biotech company



said Wednesday that its rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel has received regulatory approval as a treatment for psoriatic arthritis.

The approval of the label expansion for Enbrel by the Food and Drug Administration was expected. Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes both pain and swelling of the joints as well as irritating, scaly red patches on the skin.

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Enbrel sales in rheumatoid arthritis are expected to reach $750 million this year. Immunex reports fourth-quarter and 2001 financial results on Jan. 23.

Immunex, which is now working through its $16 billion merger with


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, is next expected to receive FDA approval for Enbrel in psoriasis next year. The company will release important late-stage tests results for Enbrel in psoriasis at a February meeting of the American Dermatological Association.

In recent trading, shares of Immunex were up 73 cents, or 2.6%, to $28.39.