UBS puts 'sell' tag on Elan over Tysabri fears
Published 23/04/2010 | 05:00
Investment bank UBS has predicted there could be a "surge" in the number of patients using Elan's Tysabri multiple sclerosis drug that develop a life-threatening brain disease known to be the most serious side-effect of the treatment. UBS has advised investors to sell Elan shares.
The prediction that the number of people who develop PML (Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy) in the current financial quarter could rise significantly prompted a decline in Elan's share price yesterday, the day after it reported first-quarter results that included an operating profit of $32.7m (€24.6m).
Elan shares closed down 2.75pc, or nearly 16c, in Dublin at €5.54. They had declined as much as 3.9pc during the day.
About 46 cases of PML have been detected in patients using Tysabri over the past few years, while 11 people have died from the disease. Some of those who survive are left requiring considerable long-term medical care. Some 50,300 people were using Tysabri as of the end of last month, half of them in the US.
When the first cases of PML were detected among Tysabri users in 2005, the drug was withdrawn from the market. The drug was later introduced with an updated warning and rigorous and continuous patient assessment aimed at early detection of any signs of PML. UBS said that last February witnessed a "significant acceleration" in the PML incidence growth associated with Tysabri.