Elan tests due by end of the summer

By the end of the year, Elan should have a clearer idea if its most prominent in-trial treatment for Alzheimer’s disease has a commercial future.

Initial Phase-3 test results on the bapineuzumab drug — which is being developed by Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, but which is still 25%-owned by the Irish drugmaker — are expected before the end of the summer, with further detailed findings due in the fourth quarter.

Speaking after Elan’s AGM in Dublin yesterday, chairman Bob Ingram said it is unlikely the company will not have an idea of a “pathway” forward regarding its Alzheimer’s treatment by the end of this year.

Elan’s ultimate goal is to have a breakthrough treatment in each of the three main neurological disorders of MS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. A commercial breakthrough for bapineuzumab would see two of those boxes ticked, as Elan’s Tysabri treatment already treats MS sufferers.

It is thought that the US drug regulator, the FDA, is eager to approve Alzhei-mer’s treatments that can show some benefit, given the lack of treatment on the market and the growing demand for therapy.

Away from Alzheimer’s, Elan said the company is optimistic about producing a clinical asset aimed at treating Parkinson’s within the next two years; but commercialisation of such a treatment remains a long-term project.

The company also continues to grow its Tysabri customer base and revenues, and work on its D5 asset, which is being aimed at two-to-three therapeutic applications.

Mr Ingram also commented on the company’s search for a new chief executive.

The process has been halted, to a degree, as current chief Kelly Martin has agreed to remain on for the remainder of the year until the bapineuzumab test results are known.

Mr Ingram said there has been and remains a “significant interest” in the job.

“We’ve been surprised and impressed with the number and calibre of interested people,” he said.

However, there remains the possibility of Mr Martin remaining in his position on a full-time basis. No further detail is expected on that front until next year.

Mr Ingram also noted that positive results regarding the Alzheimer’s treatment could see Elan become a takeover target for the industry’s bigger players. He added it is not the current board’s strategy to sell the business.


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