Westchester's Most Innovative Businesses: Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. in Ardsley

Escalating the Fight Against Multiple Sclerosis

In 2004, Acorda Therapeutics, Inc., then a pharmaceutical research and development company, found out that its flagship drug, Ampyra, had failed to achieve approval for use treating spinal cord injuries. Acorda’s demise seemed imminent, and the company, which had opened its laboratories in 1998 with six full-time employees, had to do something—quick.

It did. It purchased Zanaflex, “a drug that was ready to go to market, and we built a sales force around it,” Director of Corporate Communications Jeff MacDonald says. Buoyed by the acquisition of the drug, which was approved to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), Acorda changed in just 18 months from a small, privately owned, drug-development company to a publicly owned commercial company that both develops and sells drugs.

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MacDonald says this major business shift helped keep the company afloat until Ampyra could be re-launched with a new emphasis—as another MS treatment. In 2010, Ampyra was approved for that purpose, and, by 2011, the company that had no revenue stream prior to acquiring Zanaflex reported $292 million in revenue. Thanks in large part to their gamble, in July, Acorda moved its 340 full-time employees from Hawthorne to a new, larger corporate space in Ardsley.

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