Business Irish

Sunday 18 March 2018

Future of controversial company is bright, but still hangs on approval of US regulator

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

FOR a company that was once dogged by litigation and an accounting scandal, the future seems bright for Elan these days.

The country's largest indigenous pharma company has been cleaned up under chief executive Kelly Martin and its multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri is performing well as the main revenue driver.

There are two important decisions ahead for the company, however, and it will only have input into one of them.

The first will be whether the data from the latest round of clinical trials for Bapineuzumab, a potential Alzheimer's disease treatment, is passed by the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration.

If the FDA is satisfied, Elan should have a path to market for a drug that could be worth $3bn (€2.4bn).

That will make Elan a takeover target for one of the major pharmaceutical companies, but the market for Bapineuzumab will still be several years away. This is out of Elan's hands.

The second choice is who can replace Mr Martin.

Mr Martin had a successful term as chief executive but it seems clear now that he is hanging on to run a smooth transition for his successor.

Plainly he is not keen on staying on to guide the Bapineuzumab process.

Both Mr Martin and chairman Bob Ingram pointed to the "outstanding calibre" of candidates they have for the job. It is vital they make the right choice.

Irish Independent

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