UPDATE 1-Elan adds new directors after years of pressure

Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:50pm EDT

* Names former FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach

* Also names Hans Peter Hasler, former Biogen COO

* Announcements follow years of shareholder pressure

Sept 15 (Reuters) - Elan Corp Plc ELN.I named two new non-executive directors to its board -- Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Hans Peter Hasler, former chief operating officer at biotechnology company Biogen Idec Inc (BIIB.O).

The company also said Shane Cooke, the company's former chief financial officer, would retire from the board.

The announcement follows years of pressure from Elan investors who accused the board of lacking relevant expertise and independence.

Amid much battling, last September the company succeeded in forcing two directors who had challenged its transparency and corporate governance practices to quit the board.

Elan and Biogen jointly make and sell the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri. During his time at Biogen, which culminated in becoming COO, Hasler served as head of international business overseeing the launch of Tysabri in Europe.

Elan's relationship with Biogen has historically been troubled. Last July, a new chief executive, George Scangos, took over at Biogen. Scangos said in a recent interview that the relationship with Elan was now smooth. (Reporting by Toni Clarke)

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