The rumors surrounding Elan's (NYSE:ELN) strategic review just keep getting weirder.

So far we've had rumors that Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Danish Lundbeck would buy the entire thing and that Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) would take a minority interest in the company with an option to buy the rest.

Next up: Novartis (NYSE:NVS). London's Sunday Times reported over the weekend that the Swiss drugmaker is in talks to buy Elan's rights to multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri and its Alzheimer's pipeline.

Elan is desperate for cash -- it has a large amount of debt due in 2011 and some more due in 2013 -- but this one seems the most dubious of them all. There would be no guarantee that Novartis would be able to gain the rights to Tysabri, because Elan's partnership with Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB) allows for a buyout if there's a change in control. Plus, if it also bought Elan's Alzheimer's pipeline, what would Elan be left with? A few drugs that have low sales, Parkinson's disease and autoimmune research programs that are both in early stages, and Elan's drug technology division that it tried to get rid of last year.

It seems more likely that Elan would want to sell Novartis the whole kit and caboodle. Actually, the structure that Bristol-Myers was rumored to be partaking in -- a minority stake with an option to buy the entire thing later -- would work well for Novartis. Such a move would allow the company to get a feel for working with Biogen and Wyeth, Elan's Alzheimer's dug partner, and Novartis seems comfortable with taking minority stakes in other companies -- it's bought shares of quite a few companies, including Roche, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALNY), and Alcon (NYSE:ACL).

This isn't a TV show, and investors shouldn't have expected a decision about Elan's strategic review "right after the break." But the company better get a move on and announce something before investors grow tired of the soap-opera rumor mill and sell their shares.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Biogen Idec is a former Stock Advisor recommendation. Pfizer is an Inside Value recommendation. Alcon and Novartis are Global Gains selections. The Fool has a disclosure policy.