Questions are being raised over whether insider trading took place at Biogen Idec after US Securities and Exchange Commission filings suggested that three company executives netted millions of dollars from stock transactions days before the withdrawal of the company’s multiple sclerosis drug, Tysabri (natalizumab), was made public [[01/03/05a]].

According to the Reuters news agency, Thomas Bucknam, the firm’s general counsel, sold 89,700 shares on February 18 – the same day that Biogen Idec notified the US Food and Drug Administration of one confirmed fatal case and one possible case of a rare central nervous system disease in patients receiving Tysabri for MS – making a $1.9 million dollar profit. In addition, the article suggests that Biogen Idec’s executive chairman, William Rastetter, made a $7.5 million profit from the sale of 120,313 shares on February 15, while director, Robert Pangia, sold 15,570 shares for almost a $1 million profit a day earlier. Biogen Idec’s share price fell 47% on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange after the firm, and partner Elan, said they were withdrawing Tysabri from the market.

Although Biogen Idec reportedly refuted questions over insider trading, Reuters also notes that the company’s board of directors gave the green light to executive cash bonuses of some $4.6 million for 2004 just one day before the firm notified the FDA of the Tysabri safety concerns.