Elan Corp has posted a solid set of financials which show that fourth-quarter revenues rose 24%, boosted by sales of the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, and net income of $169.5 million, compared to a loss of $83.5 million for the like, year-earlier period.

Earnings were boosted by $236.6 million tax benefit and offset partially by charges related to the “realignment of commercial activities” related to Tysabri (natalizumab) and its use as a treatment for Crohn’s disease, plus the closure of offices in New York and Tokyo. Revenues reached $269.8 million, with biopharmaceuticals contributing $180.6 million (up 29%).

Tysabri, partnered with Biogen Idec, made up the bulk of that figure, bringing in $152.2 million, up from $90.6 million last year. Sales of the company’s Maxipime (cefepime) antibiotic slumped 80% to $3.1 million, due to generic competition.

Azactam (aztreonam), another antibiotic, fell 11% to $20.8 million, hit by supply shortages, and Elan said that sales could be negatively impacted by generic competition. However no copycat version has been approved yet, and none is expected in 2009.

Sales for the severe pain treatment Prialt (ziconotide) were up 7% to $4.4 million, while revenue from the Irish company’s EDT drug-technology division increased 14% to $89.2 million. Chief executive Kelly Martin said that in 2008, "financial results improved, clinical programmes advanced within our therapeutic areas, our science and discovery programmes continued to progress, and we had growth in both of our business units".

Chief financial officer Shane Cooke added that the company “was pleased to have met or exceeded all of its financial targets for 2008”. He added that for this year, “we will continue to focus on reducing our cash burn, derisking our balance sheet and advancing our pipeline”.

Elan did not comment on the recent furore stirred up by plans to sell a 19% stake in the firm to a large drugmaker. The firm merely noted that it is committed to completing its review of potential alternatives “as promptly as practicable. However, there can be no assurances that any particular alternative will be pursued or that any transaction will occur, or on what terms".