Elan eager to expand Tysabri uses

IRISH drug company Elan has begun clinical trials aimed at expanding the treatment possibilities for its headline product Tysabri.

Mostly famous as a treatment for multiple sclerosis, Tysabri is also licensed in the US for use by sufferers of bowel condition, Crohn’s Disease.

Elan — and its co-owner of Tysabri, the American drug giant Biogen Idec — has entered clinical trials for the drug to be used for multiple myeloma, which is the second most common blood cancer in the US.

The 12-patient phase one trial is aimed at evaluating the safety and anti-tumour activity of Tysabri.

It will be followed by a more comprehensive second phase trial.

Elan has been eager to expand the potential usages of Tysabri for some time and has also expanded its multiple sclerosis treatment portfolio by beginning trials on a second MS molecule which would act as a follow-up to Tysabri.

The company is still confident of achieving its aim of 100,000 users by the end of 2010.

Analysts are suggesting that the number of Tysabri patients should be around the 34,400 mark by the end of this month.

Third-quarter patient data is due to be published at the end of next month.

Tysabri is also expected to have generated global sales of around $233m (€163.66m) during the third quarter of the year.

Meanwhile, on the subject of the sale of Elan’s drug technology division — which acts as an outsourced drug research facility — Elan is understood to be actively seeking second round bids for the subsidiary, which could fetch up to $1.4 billion (€981.3m).

The EDT business is now fully expected to be bought by a private equity house — the likes of Warburg Pincus, Bain, Candover and Texas Pacific Group are all thought to be interested — rather than a rival drug company.

New bids for the business are expected by the middle of this month.

Elan’s share price has taken a battering over the summer months after poor clinical trial results on its most-developed Alzheimer’s treatment and further cases of brain disease PML, being contracted by Tysabri users.

A sale of the EDT division is being seen as a way of underpinning the share price.

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