Bayer, Novo Nordisk report healthy third-quarter figures

The third-quarter results season continues in a positive vein, with both Bayer and Novo Nordisk reporting higher revenues and profits.

Bayer raised its forecasts for the year after putting in what chief executive Marijn Dekkers described as an “outstanding performance” for its healthcare operations, punctuated by a 7 per cent increase in sales to €5bn led by strong performances for its stable of new products which added €750m to the pot.

The German company – which recently decided to float its materials science division and become a life science specialist focusing on pharma, veterinary and agricultural products – now expects sales of €42bn in 2014, a €1bn increase over its prior guidance. Operating earnings are expected to rise by a “mid-single-digit” percentage.

Xarelto (rivaroxaban) continued its encouraging growth trajectory, rising 69 per cent to €440m, benefitting from broader use of novel anticoagulants in place of older drugs such as warfarin, while Eylea (aflibercept) for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) rocketed 122 per cent to €189m.

There were also gains for cancer drugs Xofigo (radium-223 dichloride) and Stivarga (regorafenib) as well as pulmonary hypertension therapy Adempas (riociguat), which together brought in €118m in the quarter.

Sales of Bayer’s consumer health operations rose 2.4 per cent to €1.92bn, with the company’s acquisition of Merck’s over-the-counter (OTC) health business for $14.2bn earlier this month coming too late to have an impact on the results.

Novo confident on diabetes prospects

Novo Nordisk reported an 8.5 per cent increase in revenues to 22.25bn kroner (€3bn) and profit up a little over 1 per cent to 6.5bn kroner in the third quarter, a little head of analyst expectations, although it predicted a small full-year loss of around €20m.

The Danish pharma’s diabetes franchise headed by Victoza (liraglutide) and Levemir (insulin detemir) fared particularly well, rising 11 per cent to 17.7bn kroner in the period, with Victoza leading the charge and rising 21 per cent to 3.4bn kroner.

On the downside, haemophilia therapy NovoSeven (recombinant human coagulation Factor VIIa) declined 15 per cent to a little over 2bn kroner, which the company put down to cost-containment policies in the US and Europe and volatility in the market.

Novo was quick to reassure investors about the long-term growth potential in diabetes – who may have been spooked by the cautious stance adopted by rival Sanofi earlier this week – predicting high single-digit growth in 2015.

While Sanofi is facing the impact of biosimilar competition to its big-selling Lantus (insulin glargine) product, Novo is in the process of rolling out new drugs such as its Tresiba (insulin degludec) basal insulin – already reaching its first markets in Europe as well as in Japan, Brazil, Chile and Russia – as well as Ryzodeg (insulin degludec and insulin aspart) which debuted on Mexico last month.

The company has just bagged approval for Xultophy – a fixed-dose combination of Tresiba and Victoza – in the EU and will be launching it in the first half of 2015, said chief executive Lars Rebien Sorensen.

Novo was however a little more reticent about the prospects for Tresiba in the US, where it was turned down by the FDA at its first filing attempt. The company says it may wait for final rather than interim data from an ongoing safety study called DEVOTE – required by the FDA as a condition of approval – before refiling.

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