Elan deal rumors fly; investors not enthused

No sooner did Elan announce that it was evaluating its "strategic alternatives" than rumors began moving markets. The Danish pharma Lundbeck quickly arose as a possible suitor, on the flimsy evidence that it had kicked tires at Elan at some point in the recent past. It's true, as analysts point out, that Lundbeck is interested in Elan's Alzheimer's drug candidate bapineuzumab, because Lundbeck itself is heavily invested in the Alzheimer's arena.

Neither Elan nor Lundbeck would comment on the rumors. For what it's worth, Wyeth and Biogen Idec--Elan's partner on the multiple sclerosis med Tysabri, which has been suffering lately from new reports of patients contracting the potentially fatal brain infection PML--have been bandied about as likely suitors for Elan as well.

Interestingly, however, investors aren't sold on the idea of an acquisition or merger. Last week at the big JP Morgan conference, major shareholder Jack Schuler of Crabtree Partners told In Vivo that investors want a management change--not a sale. "We are very disappointed and this is exactly what we were fearful of," Schuler said. He went on to offer a laundry list of reasons why better management could lead to a better Elan, including better marketing of Tysabri and more prudent spending. Stay tuned.

- see the story in the Irish Independent
- read the In Vivo article