Monday, July 23, 2007

Elan Says About 14,000 People Are Taking MS Drug Tsyabri

July 23, 2007 8:37 a.m.

DUBLIN -- Elan Corp. said Monday that about 14,000 commercial patients world-wide were currently taking its multiple-sclerosis drug Tysabri, one year after its launch in Europe and re-launch in the U.S.

Elan and its U.S. partner Biogen Idec Inc. starting rolling out their 50-50 joint venture Tysabri in the U.S. and EU in June 2006 after it was temporarily suspended on safety grounds in 2005.

With 8,600 patients in the U.S., 4,300 in the EU and 1,000 in the rest of the world as of mid-July, this is 8.5% over NCB Stockbrokers' forecast, which says a slower U.S. uptake is being offset elsewhere.

Elan and Biogen in a statement quoted Howard Rossman, medical director, MS Center, Michigan Institute for Neurological Disorders in Farmington Hills, Mich., who said the drug had "compelling efficacy."

Dublin-based Goodbody Stockbrokers said Tysabri could have peak annual sales of $2.1 billion within three to four years, while AAB-001 -- if successful -- could have peak annual sales of up to $2.5 billion by 2015.

Davy Stockbrokers, which has a $21 target on Elan, "remains comfortable with our long-term projections for Tysabri for 2010, with global revenues of approximately $1.6 billion and patient numbers approaching 60,000."

Elan's share price has had a rollercoaster ride over the last five years: falling from its 2002 high of €50.27, leading some analysts to say that it may be significantly undervalued, given its Alzheimer's pipeline and MS drug.

Elan was down 1.4%, or €0.22, at €14.43 in Dublin in a week overall market; shares already fell from €15.55 last week after EU regulators advised against Tysabri's use for Crohn's disease.

The EU regulators cited the risk of serious infection given the relatively modest benefits, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's advisory panel is due to discuss Tysabri's use for Crohn's next week.

On the upside, the stock has still risen about 23% since late May on news of the imminent move into Phase III trials of its Alzheimer's treatment AAB-001, which is another 50/50 joint venture with Wyeth.

Write to Quentin Fottrell at