Xarelto spurs on Bayer growth

Strong performance from four of its newest prescription medicines has helped Bayer grow in the past year, with the company now raising its own forecasts for their peak sales.

Bayer is a conglomerate business which includes consumer health, medical devices, crop science and material sciences, but it is the prescription medicines which continues to be its engine for growth.

Sales in the Pharmaceuticals division rose 9.4% (adjusted for foreign exchange) to €11.1 billion, largely driven by recently launched products – anticoagulant Xarelto, eye treatment Eylea, and cancer drugs Stivarga and Xofigo. These four medicines saw their combined revenues rise fourfold to €1.52 billion. The fifth major new product is pulmonary hypertension treatment Adempas (riociguat). The drug was launched in the US in the autumn, and is also expected to make a major contribution to revenues.

“In light of this very positive performance, we have now significantly increased our estimate of the combined peak annual sales potential of these five products to at least €7.5 billion,” stated chief executive Marijn Dekkers. Bayer had previously forecast in excess of €5.5 billion. The firm increased its own peak annual sales forecast for Xarelto from more than €2 billion to around €3.5 billion, while Eylea’s forecast was raised from at least €1 billion to at least €1.5 billion.

Mr Dekkers said Bayer would need to invest further in marketing, distribution and life-cycle management to meet these new revenue targets.

Xarelto setbacks

Xarelto is undoubtedly the most important product in the pharma portfolio, but hasn’t been without setbacks. In February the FDA issued a third rejection of the drug for use in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke or death in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

It also turned down for the second time a separate use of Xarelto to reduce risk of stent thrombosis in the same population, in combination with standard antiplatelet therapy.

An expert FDA committee had earlier advised against approval, saying that data presented did not carry proof of significant benefit in these patients. It was approved in Europe for ACS in May last year.

However Xarelto is already approved for six uses in the US, where the drug is co-marketed with J&J: reducing the risk of strokes in patients with nonvalvular AF, for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism and for reducing the risk of blood clots in patients who have had hip or knee replacement surgery.

Among Bayer’s established top pharma products, blood-clotting medicine Kogenate grew 6.4 per cent. By contrast, sales of the multiple sclerosis drug Betaferon/Betaseron fell as expected, particularly in the US due to increased competition, and were down 11.6% year on year worldwide. The YAZ/Yasmin/Yasminelle oral contraceptives franchise was also hit by generic competition, sales declining 12.5% overall.

The firm has just sealed a deal to acquire Norwegian pharmaceutical firm Algeta for $2.62 billion. Bayer and Algeta have been collaborating since 2009 to develop and market Xofigo (radium-223 dichloride), which was launched in the US at the end of 2013 and in the first European markets in January.

Unlike many of its larger peers, Bayer has no plans to abandon its conglomerate structure. The firm has also just announced the acquisition of Chinese OTC specialist Dihon.

Overall sales of the Bayer Group rose just 1% in 2013 to €40 billion, but adjusted for currency and portfolio effects sales grew by 5.1 percent. Earnings were diminished by net special charges of € 839 million, including restructuring expenses and €276 million in additional charges related to legal claims.


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