Losses at Ireland’s Elan Corp have narrowed for the second quarter, boosted by healthy sales of its multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri.

Net loss was reduced by 4.6% to $68.2 million, while revenues climbed 14.4% to $280.9 million. The rise was driven by Tysabri (natalizumab) and global sales of the drug, which is marketed with Biogen Idec, reached $253.8 million, up 26.9%.

Elan’s share of the Tysabri revenues increased 30.2% to $173.7 million. As for the Dublin-headquartered company’s other products, generic competition savaged sales of the antibiotic Maxipime (cefepime), down 68.3% to $2.6 million.

Azactam (aztreonam), another antibiotic, fell 26.0% to $20.5 million due to supply shortages and Elan said that the drug is expected to be negatively impacted by generic competition, although no copycat version has been approved yet. Sales for the severe pain treatment Prialt (ziconotide) were up 12.2% to $4.6 million.

Sales at the Elan Drug Technologies business jumped 9.9% to $78.9 million, driven by manufacturing revenues and royalties from the likes of Abbott Laboratories’ cholesterol drug TriCor (fenofibrate; $16.4 million) and King Pharmaceuticals’ muscle relaxant Skelaxin (metaxalone; $10.3 million).

Chief financial officer Shane Cooke noted that the increase in revenues combined with lower administrative costs led to the company reporting a 54% reduction in operating losses. He added that initiatives implemented earlier in the year resulted in an acceleration of the growth in Tysabri, with a 55% increase in the number of net patients added compared to the first quarter of 2009.

Earlier this month, Elan sold an 18.4% stake in the firm and the rights to its portfolio of Alzheimer’s disease investigational drugs to Johnson & Johnson in return for $1 billion. Mr Cooke added that the transaction “will give us financial resources and access to commercial infrastructure which will enable the acceleration of…our pipeline and product portfolio”.

He went on to say that the J&J deal “will also de-risk our balance sheet, reduce our future costs and accelerate our return to profitability”. For full year 2009, Elan expects to record double-digit revenue growth and to be profitable on an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation basis.