Biogen gets more time for Elan fight

Biogen Idec has won a grace period from the U.S. court hearing its fight with Tysabri partner Elan. A hearing had been scheduled for Monday in the case, which could decide whether the two companies stay partners. But Biogen had thought the hearing a simple procedural matter, rather than a substantive argument over the partnership deal. The new date: Sept. 10.

The tug-of-war over Tysabri stems from Elan's new deal with Johnson & Johnson. The U.S. behemoth paired up with Elan as a minority shareholder and research partner, in a much-ballyhooed arrangement. But a hush-hush aspect of that deal was an agreement on Tysabri. If Biogen were acquired, that would trigger an option for Elan to buy out its partner's interest in the multiple sclerosis med. J&J agreed to finance that buyout if the opportunity ever arose.

Well, Biogen says that the Elan-J&J agreement about Tysabri violates the original partnership contract. That same agreement stipulates that if one company breaches the collaboration deal and doesn't fix the problem within 60 days, the other partner can terminate--taking full control of Tysabri. Biogen accused Elan of breaching the deal in a July 28 letter; Elan sued in response, seeking a court judgment that would prevent Biogen from pulling out of the partnership, taking Tysabri with it. Stay tuned.

- read the story in the Irish Independent