Novartis may be the deal medicine Elan has been waiting for. According to media reports over the weekend, the Swiss drugmaker is in talks to buy a big hunk of the Irish company, namely its share of the multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri and its up-and-coming Alzheimer's drug candidates. No sale is imminent, however, sources told the Sunday Times: the "complexity of the deal" could make it long in coming.
Elan has been casting about for strategic partners and/or buyers for months now. In January the company hired Citigroup to "review strategic options," and since then, Elan has entertained such interested parties as Bristol-Myers Squibb (or so the rumor mill claims). A few weeks ago, company execs said they expected to wrap up a deal "in the near term." Meanwhile, restless investors have been hammering on Elan management, until the company finally invited one of its biggest critics onto the board of directors.
The question is, as BNet Pharma points out, what will be left of Elan if Novartis snaps up Tysabri and the Alzheimer's pipeline? Just a few drugs amounting to less than $50 million in sales. Of course we're just hearing "sources said" info at this point, so we may not have the info on which assets would be transferred. And Novartis could drop out of the running, just as Bristol and (we're told) Pfizer and Lundbeck before it.