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Abbott Laboratories Highlights Year Of Achievements At Annual Meeting - Abbott CEO Stresses Performance And Solid Platform For Growth -

April 26, 2002
ABBOTT PARK, Ill., April 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- At the annual meeting of Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) shareholders today, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Miles D. White highlighted the company's scientific efforts; the successful integration of Knoll; and the performance of its two business groups, pharmaceuticals and medical products.

"In 2001, Abbott Laboratories delivered excellent results," said Mr. White. "But more importantly, we positioned our company to remain strong and successful for years to come. By investing in new technology platforms, accessing global scientific talent and targeting our efforts to address unmet patient needs, we've strengthened our science and entered new growth markets."

Mr. White announced that today Abbott's Board of Directors appointed Deloitte & Touche LLP as its independent public auditors for the year ending December 31, 2002. The firm will replace Arthur Andersen LLP.

In the pharmaceutical products business, Mr. White highlighted D2E7 (adalimumab) for rheumatoid arthritis that was developed using Knoll human monoclonal antibody technology. Abbott recently submitted regulatory applications to market D2E7 for rheumatoid arthritis in both the United States and Europe.

Mr. White also discussed Abbott's strong position as a leader in cancer research and its extensive oncology pipeline with products in every stage of development. Abbott is conducting research in several novel, targeted approaches for treating cancer, including angiogenesis inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, kinase inhibitors and endothelin antagonists. These targeted therapies focus on multiple phases of cancer progression.

Abbott's most promising drug in its oncology pipeline is a treatment for prostate cancer called atrasentan (ABT-627), an endothelin antagonist. Atrasentan appears to delay the progression of prostate cancer that does not respond to hormone treatment and it also seems to inhibit the spread of cancer to patients' bones. These preliminary results have led the FDA to grant atrasentan fast-track review status.

For the medical products business, Mr. White indicated that cardiovascular medicine will continue to be an important market for Abbott. The company recently entered into an agreement to acquire the cardiovascular stent business of Biocompatibles International to advance Abbott's drug-coated stent program. Abbott will begin human trials with its stents and proprietary drug coating later this year. The company also acquired Vysis, Inc. to strengthen its portfolio of cancer diagnostics and add important technology to its molecular diagnostics business.

Mr. White concluded his speech by stating, "The strategic actions we've taken in the past few years have broadened our global presence; expanded our array of next-generation technologies, including biotechnology platforms; and focused our efforts on patient need, and by extension, high-growth markets."

During the meeting, shareholders defeated a proposal requesting that the company implement a policy to provide pharmaceuticals for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in ways that the majority of infected persons in African nations can afford.

In the discussion of the proposal, Mr. White said that Abbott has been actively engaged in the fight against AIDS in Africa for the past few years.

The Abbott Access program provides the company's two HIV protease inhibitor drugs, Norvir(R) (ritonavir) and Kaletra(R) (lopinavir/ritonavir), as well as its HIV rapid test, Determine(TM), at no profit to least-developed countries.

To date, Abbott's products are available in 35 countries in Africa. In addition, the company launched Step Forward, a global philanthropic program aimed at building basic health care infrastructure and addressing education needs in countries, such as Tanzania and Burkina Faso, where HIV infection rates are high and needs are great. Abbott is also providing bulk malaria medication to the World Health Organization at no profit.

Abbott's board of directors also were elected during the annual meeting. Elected were 14 incumbent directors. They are:

-- Roxanne S. Austin, president and chief operating officer, DIRECTV, Inc.;

-- H. Laurance Fuller, retired co-chairman of the board, BP Amoco p.l.c.;

-- Richard A. Gonzalez, president and chief operating officer, medical products group, Abbott Laboratories;

-- Jack M. Greenberg, chairman and chief executive officer, McDonald's Corporation;

-- David A. Jones, chairman, Humana Inc.;

-- Jeffrey M. Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., president and chief operating officer, pharmaceutical products group, Abbott Laboratories;

-- The Rt. Hon. Lord Owen CH, physician, politician and businessman;

-- Boone Powell Jr., retired chairman, Baylor Health Care System;

-- Addison Barry Rand, former chairman and chief executive officer, Avis Group Holdings, Inc.;

-- W. Ann Reynolds, Ph.D., president, The University of Alabama at Birmingham;

-- Roy S. Roberts, retired group vice president, North American Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing, General Motors Corporation;

-- William D. Smithburg, retired chairman, president and chief executive officer, The Quaker Oats Company;

-- John R. Walter, retired president and chief operating officer, AT&T Corporation; former chairman and chief executive officer, R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company; and

-- Miles D. White, chairman and chief executive officer, Abbott Laboratories.

Abbott Laboratories is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals, nutritionals and medical products, including devices and diagnostics. The company employs approximately 70,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries. In 2001, the company's sales and net earnings were $16.3 billion and $2.9 billion, respectively, with diluted earnings per share of $1.88, excluding one-time charges.

Abbott's news releases and other information are available on the company's Web site at http://www.abbott.com .

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