Shareholder tells Elan to fire CEO

More dissension in the ranks at Elan: A major shareholder is calling on the board of directors to give CEO Kelly Martin (photo) the boot. Jack Schuler, former president of Abbott Laboratories and a 1 percent owner of Elan, wrote the board last week, saying Martin botched the marketing of Elan's leading drug, Tysabri, used for multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease. What's more, he tosses money around on private jets and company offices.

Other large shareholders told the Wall Street Journal that they were frustrated with Tysabri sales and wanted Elan to bring in seasoned pharma execs to run the company and populate the board. Schuler said in his letter that the current management team lacks "basic understanding of the pharmaceutical business." And another major shareholder said that he's been telling the company for years that it needs to improve its marketing efforts.

The company's chairman didn't take those attacks lying down. Kyran McLaughlin said the board rejected "your assertions about our management team," in a letter replying to Schuler, the WSJ writes. McLaughlin said the company is frustrated with the stock price-- which has dropped by more than 70 percent since July--but that he deems Tysabri a success. Plus, Martin has been cutting costs, and his private jet travel is only 20 percent of total travel expenses, McLaughlin wrote.

Will Schuler fire back? We'll have to wait and see.

- read the WSJ story