Elan in drug strategy talks

ELAN is in talks with a number of parties aimed at cementing a strategic partnership that could help boost its pipeline of Alzheimer’s treatments.

The Dublin and Athlone-based drug firm — whose main product is the Tysabri multiple sclerosis treatment, which it co-owns with US firm Biogen Idec — said yesterday that the strategic group review, which it employed Citigroup to initiate at the beginning of this year, is “ongoing” but “the best option” would be a partnership with a large pharmaceutical company, allowing “access to existing global infrastructure.”

Elan’s partnership with Wyeth on its in-test Alzheimer’s treatment, AAB-001/Bapineuzumab, won’t be a barrier to any possible new partnership.

Elan — which has seen its share price rocked in the past few months by a number of factors including new cases of the rare brain disease PML in Tysabri users and poor test results from Bapineuzumab — yesterday reported a mixed bag of first quarter results, for the three months to March.

Despite a positive showing from Tysabri — of which sales rose by 48% for the period, on a year-on-year basis — the company’s overall first quarter loss rose from €83.4 million to €88.6m. Group revenue for the three months, rose by 14% year-on-year to €245.1m. The loss per share was 22c, up from 18c at the same time last year.

On a divisional basis, revenue at the company’s Elan Drug Technologies (EDT) arm fell by 14% to $59.7m, while there was a 28% rise in revenue in its biopharmaceuticals division.

Elan’s chief financial officer Shane Cooke said that the continuing growth of Tysabri — with 18,500 users in the EU and another 20,800 in the US — and the company’s revenue levels, represented “a solid start to the year.” He added that Elan remained on target to record double-digit revenue growth “and to be profitable on an adjusted EBITDA basis.”


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