Elan shares rise on positive finding on Antegen

Shares in Elan rose over 12% in trading on Nasdaq on Tuesday December 31, as a result of a positive report on Antegen and on news of its realising further cash.

Shares in Elan rose over 12% in trading on Nasdaq on Tuesday December 31, as a result of a positive report on Antegen and on news of its realising further cash.

Biogen, Inc. and Elan Corporation, plc have announced that the results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) indicate ANTEGREN® (natalizumab) reduced new inflammatory brain lesions and relapses in patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The use of natalizumab in the treatment of MS is currently being investigated in Phase III clinical trials. An investigational study was also published in today's NEJM that showed promising results for natalizumab on disease remission and improved quality of life for patients with Crohn's disease.

Biogen and Elan are collaborating on the development, manufacturing and commercialization of natalizumab, the first in a new class of compounds known as selective adhesion molecule inhibitors (SAM inhibitors).

Elan also announced that it has completed the sale of all of the outstanding stock of Athena Diagnostics to Behrman Capital and certain of its affiliated investment funds. As per the terms of the transaction that was previously announced on November 22, 2002, Elan has realised net cash proceeds of approximately $82m (€79m).

"The sale of Athena Diagnostics brings cash raised and to be received pursuant to previously announced transactions through our asset divestiture program to approximately $680m (€657m). In the five months since the announcement of our recovery plan, we have accomplished nearly 45% of the stated target of $1.5bn (€1.4bn)to be achieved by the end of 2003," said Dr Garo Armen, chairman of Elan.

"Based on the execution of our recovery plan to date, I am confident that we will reach our divestiture targets ahead of schedule. Discussions on other asset divestitures and business rationalisations are ongoing."

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