Elan Corp. (ELN), Ireland's largest drugmaker, said its third-quarter loss narrowed to $87.4 million because of sales of the Tysabri treatment for multiple sclerosis.
Tysabri generated $63.5 million for Elan, compared with $5.4 million a year earlier, when the drug came back on the market after being suspended because of a link to a rare, fatal brain infection. Revenue rose 43 percent to $176.6 million.
``The improved performance was driven by the acceleration of Tysabri revenues and improved operating margins,'' Chief Financial Officer Shane Cooke said on a conference call. ``Revenues are increasing at a much faster pace than operating costs.''
About 17,000 patients have been treated since Tysabri was reintroduced in July 2006, exceeding a 15,000 patient target required to make sales of the drug profitable. Elan, which markets Tysabri with U.S. biotechnology company Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB), expects the number of patients taking the therapy will surge to 100,000 by the end of 2010.
``We're optimistic that we will beat'' the company's forecast for losses before tax and other items of about $50 million for the full year, Cooke said. ``The quicker the number of patients on Tysabri, the quicker we will get to overall profitability,'' he said.
Elan shares rose 49 cents, or 3 percent, to 16.49 euros in Dublin. The stock has gained about 53 percent this year.
Elan and U.S. partner Wyeth plan to start the final stage of testing for their new treatment for Alzheimer's disease, AAB-001, by the end of the year. In a note to investors May 22, analysts at Credit Suisse said that the drug, also known as bapineuzumab, had the potential to be ``landscape altering'' and estimated that revenue may exceed $5 billion.
Elan also said it plans to start a mid-stage trial this year on the ELND-005 experimental Alzheimer's therapy, which it is developing with Toronto-based Transition Therapeutics Inc. (TTH)
``These are some promising compounds in the Alzheimer's pipeline that are below the radar,'' Goodbody Stockbrokers analyst Ian Hunter, who rates the shares ``add,'' said in an interview. ``The market was looking for some positives in this area.''
Elan's net loss was 19 cents a share, compared with a loss of $117 million, or 27 cents, a year earlier, the Dublin-based company said in an e-mailed statement.
Biogen said Oct. 23 that overall sales for the drug amounted to $93 million.
To contact the reporter on this story: Trista Kelley in London at email@example.com