More MS news articles for Sep 2001

Upbeat Elan targets next phase of MS drug trials

September, 2001
Jim Aughney

ELAN, the Dublin-based pharmaceutical company, is planning to move its Multiple Sclerosis drug Antegren into Phase III trials later this year as part of its plans to grow revenues to $10bn by 2005, chief executive Donal Geaney said.

Results from Phase II studies of the drug were presented to a meeting of the European Congress on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in Dublin on Saturday last. The findings show that patients treated with Antegren for six months had fewer lesions than those treated with a placebo. The number of relapses was also reduced.

"We are very, very pleased with the results. Very encouraged," Mr Geaney said.

"The most important thing about this is that we saw some evidence of clinical improvement within six months. Nothing else out there works within two years," he said.

If cleared for market, Antegren would provide a very large boost to Elan's revenues, Mr Geaney said.

Based on the findings for MS and also for Crohn's Disease, Elan will move ahead with trials in collaboration with US group Biogen.

MS is a disorder in which the nerves of the eye, brain and spinal chord lose patches of the protective sheath which allows electrical impulses to be conducted along nerve fibres quickly and accurately. The condition can lead to blurred vision, numbness and jerkiness of the limbs. MS affects over one million people worldwide.

"Current treatments, while they play a very useful role, don't seem to be as significant in potential as this product (Antegren). The current market is a multi-billion dollar market, so if we were as good as or better than current products if this works I'd be very surprised if it was not a multi-billion dollar product," Mr Geaney said.

Phase III is expected to involve two years of study followed by some months of data collation before Antegren could be filed with the US Food and Drug Administration.

"You're talking about not being able to file anything until best case mid-2004. In theory, we could go to market by mid-to-late 2005," Mr Geaney said.

Antegren may have applications for other auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and colitis, he said.