Friday, March 21, 2008

Biogen Idec CEO predicts more brain disorders in Tysabri patients

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The CEO of Biogen Idec told investors Tuesday that he expects to see more cases of a rare, fatal brain disorder in patients taking the drug Tysabri, Reuters reported Tuesday.

But James Mullen, the executive, thinks the problems are unlikely to create more regulatory problems for Tysabri, a multiple sclerosis drug pulled temporarily from the market in 2005 thanks to the brain disease.

James Mullen told investors that "we anticipate there will be some additional cases of PML," according to Reuters. PML is the abbreviation for the brain infection seen in two Tysabri patients three years ago. Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB), which makes the drug at a facility in Research Triangle Park, voluntarily pulled the treatment from the market.

Tysabri has since returned under a patient-monitoring program, however, with no new cases of PML. Biogen hopes to make it a blockbuster, billion-dollar drug by 2010.

New cases of PML in Tysabri patients could "create a lot of excitement in the short term given the history of this product," Reuters reported Mullen as saying. But the Biogen chief added that he would see "no regulatory problems." Many patients take Tysabri despite its risks because the drug is highly effective.

Biogen co-markets Tysabri with Elan Corp. of Ireland.

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