(Adds statement from Acorda, updates share price, changes slug from ACORDATHERAPEUTICS-SCOPIACPITAL)
Aug 7 (Reuters) - A New York-based hedge fund that owns 17 percent of Acorda Therapeutics Inc on Monday called on the U.S. developer of drugs targeting neurological disorders to explore a sale, according to a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Pressure on Acorda to pursue a sale comes after a judge in March struck down key patents of its multiple sclerosis drug Ampyra, which accounts for almost all of its revenue.
This means Ampyra could face generic competition as early as next year.
Scopia Capital Management LP published a letter it had sent to Acorda's board of directors on Monday informing the company that it had accumulated a 17 percent stake and requesting the appointment of a special committee of independent directors to oversee "a review of all strategic alternatives to maximize value," including a sale.
"We are highly confident that multiple qualified, potential buyers would be interested in engaging with Acorda at a significant premium to its present value," Ashu Tyagi, a partner as Scopia, wrote in the letter.
Acorda said in a statement that a sale would not adequately compensate shareholders for the potential benefits of its late-stage drug development programs.
"Initiating a sale process or a public review of strategic alternatives at this point would destabilize operations, hinder our ability to execute on the companys business plan and risk significantly devaluing the company," Acorda said.
Shares of the Ardsley, New York-based company were up 4 percent at $22.31 early on Monday afternoon, giving the company a market capitalization of $1.05 billion.
Acorda has said it is appealing the ruling on Ampyra's patents, and that it expects to maintain exclusivity on the drug at least through July 2018. It has forecast net revenue from Ampyra to come in this year at between $535 million and $545 million.
Last June, Acorda submitted with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration an application for its drug Inbrija for advanced Parkinson's disease, which has completed Phase 3 clinical trials. The company expects to start selling it as early as next year.
Acorda also has highs hopes for Tozadenant, another Parkinson's disease drug it acquired last year when it took over Biotie Therapies Corp. That drug is currently in Phase 3 clinical trial development.
In its letter to Acorda, Scopia called its strategy of transitioning from Ampyra to Inbrija and Tozadenant risky, because Inbrija could take time to replace Ampyra's lost revenue, and Tozadenant could still fail in clinical trials.
Scopia also said in its letter that recent merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the sector showed that drugs for advanced Parkinson's disease are highly valued.
It said Acorda would be a more valuable acquisition candidate than Cynapsus Therapeutics Inc, which was sold to Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc for $624 million last year, and NeuroDerm Ltd, which agreed last month to be sold to Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp for $1.1 billion.
The fund was NeuroDerm's largest shareholder when it agreed to be sold.
Scopia has been stepping up its M&A and activist investments since former Coppersmith Capital Management LLC managing partner Jerome Lande joined it last year as head of special situations. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Diane Craft and Matthew Lewis)