Could Swiss giant Novartis soon be the proud new owner of much of Ireland’s Elan? It could be just another rumour but the UK’s Sunday Times cites a “well placed source” as saying parts of Elan, including its multiple sclerosis products and Alzheimer’s disease pipeline, could be heading Novartis’ way – though it concedes a decision could be some way off.

Back in January, Elan hired Citigate to conduct a review of its business and revealed a merger or sale could be on the cards. Then earlier this month it claimed a deal could be wrapped up “in the near term” but has remained tight-lipped on the details.

The company has previously been linked with Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Lundbeck – all of which have come to nothing.

Tysabri now linked to 10 brain infection cases
However, the news comes as Elan's partner Biogen Idec revealed there have now been 10 cases of the potentially fatal brain infection progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy linked to its flagship multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri (natalizumab).

Worldwide 52,000 patients have been treated with Tysabri in the post-marketing setting, but since its reintroduction and approval in 2006 there have been 10 cases of PML; three in the past month alone.