Industry News

[August 16, 2006]

Where Are They Now ?

(Business & Finance Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Where Are They, Now ?

Elan's former employees have made a significant impact on both Irish industry and the wider business world. Donal Griffin profiles the various companies with connections to the pharma giant.


Tom Lynch, former Elan CFO, chairs this London-based drug company, which listed recently on AIM and IEX. One of the most senior Elan execs, Lynch resigned from the management team with the late Donal Geaney, following the crash in the company's share price after a Wall Street journal story about the company's accounting practices in 2002.

He was already chairing Amarin at this point, a young drug delivery company in which his employers held a 22% stake. Lynch bought the stake for $6.5m (E5m).

With its share price on NASDAQ having doubled since January, Amarin is today valued at about $200m (E156m). Its Miraxion compound is in Phase III trials - the last trial before a drug gets approval - for a Huntington's disease treatment and Phase II for depressive disorders. A treatment for Parkinson's disease is in the pre-clinical stage.

Alan Cooke, Amarin's CFO, was vice president of global strategic planning with Elan prior to joining in 2004.

Former Elan director, Tom Maher, who had led a life sciences legal section in Matheson Ormsby Prentice (see below), joined the company as general counsel in February. AGI Therapeutics along with Amarin, AGI have garnered the most headlines as a biotech start-up success story. Founded by John Devane in 2003, its management team led the company to a Eur 40m floatation earlier this year, which will fund ongoing clinical trials of its gastrointestinal drugs.

Devane was with them for 20 years, mainly in executive research positions while chief operating officer Mary Martin was managing director of Elan Biotechnology Research from 2000-2003.

Patrick Ashe and Jackie Butler headed up business development and pharmaceutics throughout the early 1990s, respectively, while John Kelly, AGI's chief scientific adviser, was chief scientific officer for the same period. Devane, Ashe and Butler founded Athpharma (see below). Martin is listed as a director with BioClin (see below).

Azur Pharma

Three of the four that run this heavilyfunded company came from Elan, including boss Seamus Mulligan, who stumped up nearly half of its E40m fundraising round last year. Mulligan actually led Elan's restructuring by heading up Elan Enterprises, which offloaded the company's excess interests.

Two other executives, David Brabazon and Eunan Maguire, held senior Elan positions in finance and business development, respectively. Mulligan bought Athpharma last year and has emerged as one of the industry's prominent entrepreneurs.


One of the first Elan spin-offs, Athpharma is a meeting of Irish biotech worlds. A team including John Devane, Patrick Ashe and Jackie Butler of AGI founded it on a number of drug technologies in 2001 and some seed funding from Elan.

Taking developed drugs and improving them was the business plan and it entered into a joint venture with Canadian pharma Biovail on four cardiovascular projects, for which Athpharma received over E40m.

The team moved on to AGI Therapeutics, selling last year to Seamus Mulligan, who bought back the four Biovail products.

It has over E30m in cash, according to recent accounts, but a spokesperson for Mulligan said Azur Pharma is his primary concern.

Sigmoid Biotechnologies

Ivan Coulter and former Elan director Joey Moodley founded Sigmoid in 2004 to develop its oral drug technology. While Coulter was general manager with Ntera, Moodley worked for over 20 years for Elan in various positions.

He was a director in technical support in Elan's drug delivery business before he left in 2003. Without a major backer as of yet, Coulter expects to go looking for money next year.

Merrion Pharmaceuticals Venture capitalists Growcorp founded the company in 2004, having bought some oral drug delivery technologies from Elan. Merrion, which is also developing its own drug portfolio, has its holding company and research base in Dublin, with international headquarters in the US. Elan will earn a small royalty when Merrion's products come to market and still owns 5%. Merrion is reportedly set to float on AIM next year and recently raised E5m in private funding. Irlandia, Tony Ryan's investment vehicle, is an investor and his son Declan sits on the board.


Former Elan production manager Michael Macken set up Pharmaplaz in 2002 with an unconventional approach to drug delivery. Macken plans to develop drugs for other companies and then claim royalties on sales of the product once it reaches the market. Ireland doesn't tax intellectual propertydriven products - unlike the US, which imposes a 30% rate - giving his company a trump card if the pharmaceutical sector turns towards out-sourcing its drug development, which Macken has predicted. Based in Athlone, company accounts show that it was loss-making at the end of 2003. BioClin This bio-analysis company is based in Athlone and was founded by former Elan scientists. Mary Martin of AGI Therapeutics is a director and both AGI and Elan are customers.

Fountain Healthcare Partners Ena Prosser, former Elan executive, left the biotechnology division of Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland's grant approval group to join this biotech venture capital company.

Manus Rogan, former head of commercial development with Elan, is heading up the fund. Aidan King, a former Elan business development director, is also involved. Industry sources suggest it's still fundraising.

InfoSight Training & Consultancy

Founded by statistician Tom O'Hara, who had worked previously with Elan, InfoSight is based in Athlone. The company's services in statistics are aimed at the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, medical and food sectors in Ireland, the UK and the US.

PK Pharma Innovations

Alison Wilson was pharmacokinetic manager with Elan in Athlone when the corporation started restructuring its R&D. She left and set up PK Pharma Innovations, which offers analysis for Phase I and Phase II trials in the pharmacokinetic and biopharmaceutical areas.


The late Donal Geaney chaired and invested in this software company, which sells its products to industries including pharmaceutical and biotech.

BCM Hanby Wallace

Colin Sainsbury, a partner in one of Ireland's largest legal firms, was vice president and general counsel within Elan's drug delivery business during 1996-2002. As senior vice president, he was involved in that billion-dollar sale of Elan assets following the crash in the company's share price.

Sainsbury was responsible for managing the legal aspect of the investigation into the accounting policies that caused the crash in the first place. He recently advised Elan on the licensing of its NanoCrystal technology to a subsidiary of Abbot Laboratories.

Matheson Ormsby Prentice Tom Maher was also a senior legal figure with Elan as vice president of legal affairs while also playing a role in its sale of assets during 2002 and 2003. He joined MOP to head up a new dedicated life sciences division before leaving for Amarin in February.

Frontier Equity Partners

In 2004, the Sunday Business Post reported that the late Donal Geaney was backing a biotechnology investment fund, of which Azur Pharmds David Brabazon (see above) was chief executive. The firm hasn't traded since its inception and isn't believed to be a running concern.

Nocturn Pharma

Seamus Mulligan and Jimmy Skehan are listed as directors in Nocturn Pharma, which was incorporated last December. Neither could be contacted for comment. Outside Ireland Outside of Ireland, the Elan diaspora is harder to track. As much of its US-based work was done on a partnership basis, there were fewer managers buying patents around which to set up new companies across the Atlantic.

Instead, management filtered into other companies.

Questcor, for example, draws much of its senior management from Elan. This New York-based drug company is working on providing prescription drugs for central nervous system disorders and brought in the new management following a tough trading period in 2004.

Michael Boss, former Elan executive, is chief business officer with Xanthus. The USbased drug company, which has products for breast cancer and colorectal cancer, is in Phase III trials.

Innovata, a British plc, acquired former Elan talent when it bought the spin-off Quadrant Technologies in 2005. Its head of R&D held a senior role in Elan Drug Delivery UK as did a non-executive director.

Copyright 2006 Belenos Publications Ltd Source: Financial Times Information Limited - Europe Intelligence Wire.

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