Speculation that Pfizer is looking at acquiring Elan Corp has seen the Irish drugmaker’s stock leap 45% this week, and analysts have been weighing up whether such a deal would make sense.

Ian Hunter at Dublin-based stockbroker Goodbody has issued a note this morning saying that Elan is at an attractive price. However, its main drug assets, the multiple sclerosis/Crohns disease drug Tysabri (natalizumab) and the investigational Alzheimer’s disease drug bapineuzumab, are locked in 50:50 development and commercialisation deals with Biogen Idec and Wyeth respectively, “making for a ‘messy’ take out.

Pfizer to buy Biogen as well?
Furthermore, he believes that Elan “would be too small a target for a company of Pfizer's size”, although given the New York-based behemoth’s vast cash reserves, Pfizer could easily absorb both Biogen and Elan which have market capitalisations of $14 billion and $4 billion respectively.

For that, Pfizer would gain complete control of Tysabri, which Mr Hunter believes still has blockbuster potential despite concerns about the rare brain disorder progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. It would also get hold of Biogen’s MS drug Avonex (interferon beta-1a) and a share of revenues from the rheumatoid arthritis and cancer drug Rituxan (rituximab), sold with Genentech.

However the broker ended on a note of caution saying that “Elan has been the subject of takeover speculation a number of times before without anything coming of it”. He also noted that the share price of the Irish firm has also been boosted by rumours that Tysabri patient numbers are well up but that rally is “we believe, overcooked”.