For the last few years, Abbott Labs' (NYSE: ABT) major flaw has been its dependence on its anti-inflammatory Humira. Like Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) with Lipitor, the loss of Humira is going to hurt. A lot.

Yesterday's licensing of BT-061 from Biotest could help the future bleeding, though. The drug is in phase 2 trials for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis and could potentially be used in other immune-related diseases like Crohn's disease, which Humira also treats.

Abbott is paying $85 million upfront and $395 million in potential milestones for access to BT-061. Biotest retained co-marketing rights in the five largest European markets, but Abbott will have worldwide rights elsewhere. If it's approved, Biotest is owed royalties, but as usual, the levels weren't disclosed.

BT-061 works in a different way than Humira -- it attacks CD4 rather than TNF -- which might make it work better. Only working as well as the current TNF blockers -- Humira, Merck (NYSE: MRK) and Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ) Remicade, and Pfizer and Amgen's (Nasdaq: AMGN) Enbrel -- isn't going to cut it. Cheap versions of the biologics are on the horizon, which would make it extremely hard for BT-061 to compete.

The other knock on BT-061 is that it's an antibody, so it'll have to be injected or infused. Pfizer, Rigel Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: RIGL), and Incyte (Nasdaq: INCY) are all developing rheumatoid arthritis drugs that can be taken orally. Given patients' general disdain for needles, BT-061 could have a tough marketing road ahead if the oral medications are approved.

Even with the clear challenges, licensing a follow-up compound seems like a good move. It certainly beats Abbott sitting on its hands and waiting for the bleeding to begin.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Abbott Laboratories and Johnson & Johnson. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Abbott Laboratories, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.