Losses at Ireland’s Elan Corp have halved for the second quarter, boosted by the take-up of its multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri and despite rising costs linked to the development of its investigational treatment for Alzheimer’s, bapineuzumab.

Net loss decreased 49% to $71.5 million, thanks to what the firm’s chief financial officer Shane Cooke referred to as strong cost management and 30% revenue growth to $245.6 million. That rise was driven by Tysabri (natalizumab) and global sales of the drug, which is marketed with Biogen Idec, reached $200.0 million, up from $72.1 million in the like, year-earlier period.

Elan’s share of the Tysabri revenues increased almost threefold to $133.4 million, more than compensating for the effects of generic competition which meant that sales of the antibiotic Maxipime (cefepime) suffered a 77% decline in revenues to $8.2 million. Azactam (aztreonam), another antibiotic, rose 33% to $27.7 million. Elan said that Azactam is expected to be negatively impacted by generic competition, although no copycat version has been approved yet.

EDT business to be separated
Sales at the Elan Drug Technologies (EDT) business fell 12% to $71.8 million, impacted by the timing of customer orders and the inclusion of a $5 million milestone in 2007. The company confirmed that it has decided to explore “the alternative strategic options for a separation of the EDT business” and details will be revealed “over the next several months.

Elan also noted that R&D costs rose 36% to $81.2 million, which was primarily related to increased expenses related to the Alzheimer's disease candidate bapineuzumab, which the firm is developing with Wyeth. Eagerly-anticipated data from the 240-patient Phase III trial of bapineuzumab will be presented on July 29 at the International Congress of Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago.

In a research note, Irish stockbroker Goodbody said that the drug, if approved, could have peak sales of $6.5 billion a year. As for the EDT business, a sale could be completed within months and may raise up to $1.4 billion, the analysts said.