Elan shares halve after drug link to rare disease

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The value of Elan, Ireland's biggest drug company, halved again yesterday after it said its withdrawn multiple sclerosis drug had been linked to a third case of a rare disease of the nervous system.

The value of Elan, Ireland's biggest drug company, halved again yesterday after it said its withdrawn multiple sclerosis drug had been linked to a third case of a rare disease of the nervous system.

Its shares slumped €3.01 to €2.41 in London, giving the group a valuation of £945m, as analysts said the news further reduced the chances of Tysabri being reintroduced to the market.

Elan's shares lost 69 per cent of their value in one day last month when the drug's potential side effects were first reported. It was withdrawn after just three months on the US market. It is not currently sold elsewhere in the world.

In two of the three confirmed cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) among Tysabri users the patient has died. The third case revealed yesterday caused the death in 2003 of a patient taking Tysabri as an experimental treatment for the bowel disorder Crohn's disease, and it crushes Elan's hope that PML may only be caused by the combination of Tysabri with other multiple sclerosis drugs.

In a joint statement, Elan and its US partner Biogen Idec stressed the link between Tysabri and PML had not yet been proven and said they had not yet given up hope of resurrecting Tysabri.

Tysabri's US approval last November came earlier than usual because the drug appeared so effective in early trials. Its withdrawal turned it from one of the biotech industry's most exciting prospects - with forecasted sales of up to $3bn (£1.6m) a year - to potentially one of its most disappointing failures.

Although Elan came to the brink of bankruptcy in 2003, hopes for Tysabri meant it was still valued at more than €7bn before the drug was pulled.

Comments