Updated from 12;12 P.m. EST

Shares in Irish drugmaker

Elan

(ELN)

surged about 30% in very heavy trading Wednesday, after the Dublin-based company said it was seeking early approval of its multiple sclerosis drug.

The Dublin-based company, which also reported a narrower fourth-quarter loss, announced that it and its U.S. partner

Biogen Idec

(BIIB) - Get Report

expect to ask the Food and Drug Administration to approve the drug Antegren as a treatment for multiple sclerosis by midyear.

Elan shares GAINED $2.98, or 33%, to $11.78, and were the second most active stock on the

NYSE

. Some 57.6 million shares changed hands, about 12 times the average daily volume.

Biogen Idec shares jumped $8.84, or 20%, to $53.10. Trading volume was almost 34 million shares, compared with the stock's average volume of 3.9 million shares.

Elan said the decision was made after one year of data from a two-year Phase III trial involving more than 2000 patients. Elan said it will continue the program despite the decision to apply for early FDA approval.

Elan had a net loss after discontinued operations of $328.2 million, or an 88-cent loss per share, compared to a loss of $688.5 million, or $1.97 a share, a year ago. There were no consensus estimates from analysts available.

Revenue fell to $157.5 million compared to $196.7 million in the year-ago period, as the company shed businesses as part of a drive to restore its balance sheet. More importantly, revenue from the products it held on to rose 45% to $107.8 million from a year ago.

Elan had cash and cash equivalents of $807.5 million compared with $1.01 billion a year ago.