Elan CEO defends himself, Tysabri

Elan CEO Kelly Martin (photo) visited the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, looking to do some damage control after last week's series of bad news. As you know, shareholders have been complaining about Elan stock's precipitous drop back in August, about the sales of its multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, and about Martin himself. Some have even called for his resignation. Plus, last week the company announced a fourth case of the brain infection PML in Tysabri patients this year.

What did Martin have to say for himself? Well, first off, he said that $1 billion-plus in Tysabri sales for this year ain't too shabby. Critics may think the drug could have done better, but marketing the drug hasn't been problem-free, Martin said. "We think the progress being made, despite all the challenges, is good progress," he said.

Plus, Martin touted some steps Elan and partner Biogen Idec are taking to combat concerns about Tysabri's safety. They are working with neurologists to help them identify PML early on. And they're studying PML patients to try to figure out why they developed the problem in the first place. Are certain patients more at risk than others, for instance? The drugmakers aim to find out.

As for the criticism that Martin and his management team have been jet-setting the globe unnecessarily, the CEO said he's trying to cut its jet use in favor of more videoconferencing. And he said he's been discussing shareholder concerns with Elan's board. We bet he has. Stay tuned.

- read the Health Blog post

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