PHARMACEUTICALS giant Elan could have a "path to market" for a new drug that would "transform" the company by the end of this year, the company said yesterday.
The company, which is best known for its multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, should have the latest data for its Alzheimer's drug Bapineuzumab, in which it has a 25pc stake in along with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, by the middle of the year.
If the drug passes those tests, Elan should be able to see a route to market for the drug, which the company has previously said would have a "transformative effect" on the business, with a value of up to $3bn (€2.4bn).
"J&J and Pfizer say their top line data will be released in the middle of the year but then they will go through the scientific detail at a series of scientific fora from September onwards," chief executive Kelly Martin told shareholders at the company's annual meeting.
Company chairman Robert Ingram added that there was "growing pressure on the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to approve something for this huge unmet need of Alzheimer's disease".
"You will see increasing coverage of this administration, all the way to the White House, talking about the increasing demographics of these patients and the rising cost of housing patients as the levels of the disease increases.
"The FDA won't approve the drug if it doesn't have a single benefit but they are signalling that they will be very reasonable about getting something to patients that has a modicum of benefit.
"We don't know the data yet but the environment today versus two years ago has changed for the positive," he added.
"If the data is released in, say, September, I would say it's unlikely that you wouldn't have at least a possible pathway [to market] by the end of the year," Mr Ingram claimed.
Both men were speaking after the company's annual general meeting in Dublin.
If Bapineuzumab does pass those tests, Mr Ingram said there was the possibility that the company could become a takeover target but added that any move in that direction would be done with full shareholder consultation.
"Speaking to investors, there has been a consistent theme in our conversations, and they have repeatedly told us, 'don't sell the company short'.
"If an offer comes in we can't ignore it, but it is not our strategy to sell the company."
Elan gained 1.94pc in Dublin to close at €10.49.