Abbott Laboratories, which announced last October that it would spin off its $18 billion drugs arm, is calling the new unit AbbVie.

AbbVie will have "a sustainable portfolio of market-leading brands", notes Abbott, notably the blockbuster Humira (adalimumab), which is approved for indications covering rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis and had fourth-quarter sales of $2.18 billion (+15.9%). Other treatments include the prostate cancer therapy Lupron (leuprolide), the HIV drug Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) and the hypothyroid medication Synthroid (levothyroxine).

The remainder of the company, which will retain the Abbott name, will contain its diagnostics, devices, nutrition and branded generics businesses. Abbott chief executive Miles White said that "with a powerful family of products and a continued focus on breakthrough innovations", AbbVie will be "positioned to deliver market-leading performance".

The new unit claims to have "an attractive pipeline of innovative R&D assets in important specialty therapeutic areas", such as hepatitis C, immunology, chronic kidney disease, women's health, oncology and neuroscience". AbbVie is expected to start operations by the end of 2012.