Sunday, May 11

Biogen Idec talking with MS pill maker

NEW YORK - Biogen Idec Inc. of Cambridge is in talks to buy Acorda Therapeutics Inc. to gain an experimental pill for patients with multiple sclerosis, people familiar with the discussions said.

Acorda shares surged 19 percent when the company said its lead experimental drug, Fampridine, helped MS patients walk. Biogen, the world's largest maker of medicines for multiple sclerosis, is also talking about buying rights to market Fampridine, the people said. The pill may be cleared for US sale this year.

Biogen's top-selling MS medication, Avonex, generated $2.2 billion last year. Its fastest growing product is the MS drug Tysabri, which had 2008 sales of $589 million. The company's oral MS drug, BG-12, is in final human tests. Biogen is also developing at least three other experimental treatments, daclizumab, CDP323, and Lingo, for MS.

The Boston Globe