Ireland’s Elan Corporation says that the US Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an informal investigation into the company’s securities trading around the time of the withdrawal of its multiple sclerosis drug, Tysabri (natalizumab) [[01/03/05a]].

In its annual report, Elan said that the SEC’s enforcement division was conducting a preliminary inquiry, relating to “actions and securities” and events surrounding the company’s decision to suspend Tysabri after it was linked to a rare and potentially fatal central nervous system side effect.

The SEC is also conducting an informal inquiry into Elan’s partner for Tysabri, Biogen Idec, and the trading in its securities by certain of the firm’s directors, officers and employees. The firm’s chief counsel, Thomas Bucknum, resigned from his position at the company last month after regulatory filings revealed that he had reaped millions of dollars from the sale of shares just before the Tysabri suspension [[10/03/05c]].

Late last year, Elan agreed to pay $75 million dollars to settle an earlier SEC probe into its accounting practices that had been hanging over its head since 2002 [[08/02/02b]], [[26/10/04a]], [[15/09/04c]].