Press review

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Xarelto is Bayer's growth factor

Country : Germany

Keywords :
BERLIN, Oct 27 (APM) - Growth in sales of novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC) Xarelto (rivaroxaban) will be key to Bayer's performance and will offer support for the upcoming Monsanto takeover, wrote Handelsblatt on Tuesday (p18-19)
Xarelto, which generated almost 3 billion euros sales in 2016 and is Bayer's number one drug, is expected to increase its share of total turnover thanks to extensions of indication. The next one may be granted in 2018 based on the successful results of the COMPASS study (APMHE 54435).
By 2022, Citigroup estimated that Bayer may see nine billion euros sales and Xarelto's total turnover -including U.S. sales made by co-marketing partner Johnson & Johnson- may reach 13 billion euros.
The success could be overshadowed by U.S. lawsuits on bleeding risks and potentially huge damages to pay, though so far the three first test cases have been rejected (APMHE 54355).

Weaker than expected Q3 for Bayer

Bayer's Q3 results were weaker than expected, especially for its over-the-counter (OTC) unit, report Handelsblatt (p28-29), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p21&24), Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) (p21) and Die Welt (p9) on Friday (APMHE 55325).
The non-prescription health products business suffered from weak demand and fierce competition, particularly in North America.
The prescription drugs business grew but less than expected, although profits rose slightly, the papers say.
Bayer has also cut the value of its takeover of Monsanto to $63.5 billion including debt, down from an initial $66 billion, because the U.S. seeds giant has lowered its financial liabilities.

Novartis's Jimenez plays for time on Alcon

Novartis's CEO Joe Jimenez is playing for time regarding a flotation of eyecare business Alcon, delayed to the first half of 2019 at the soonest, reported Handelsblatt (p21&31), FAZ (p21&22) and Die Welt (p13) on Wednesday (APMHE 55284).
Jimenez wants to make sure that Alcon first reaches a significantly higher market value. Bought in 2010 for the hefty price of $50 billion, Alcon products do not fit with Novartis's focus on innovative drugs, said FAZ.
The prospect of a flotation is tempting for shareholders, but they will only benefit from the spinoff if Alcon is able to show a 20-25% operating margin, Handelsblatt said.

Declining sales for Merz pharma

Germany's Merz Pharma, specialised in special neurology drugs and aesthetics products, reported a 6.4% decline in sales in 2016/2017bto 1.023 billion euros, reported FAZ on Wednesday (p20) and on Thursday (p34).
Licensing fees from Alzheimer's drug memantine have declined and sales from the aesthetics unit were down 5%. However, sales of spasticity drug Xeomin (botulinum toxin type A free from complexing proteins) grew by 15%.

Pharma industry needs engineers

German pharmaceutical companies are seeking well-trained engineers specialised in pharmaceutical and biotechnological production, the SZ reported on Saturday (p60).
Around a dozen German universities offer a master's course mixing engineering science and pharmacy, but this is still not enough to meet the demand.
Sanofi is hiring around 50 engineers every year for Germany, Austria and Switzerland for medical technology, production of active ingredients and medicines, Birgit Huber, head of recruiting department, told SZ.
Since specialised engineers are rare, Sanofi hires graduates from in all engineering courses and trains them.

Germany cuts health contributions slightly

Germany's health minister Herman Groehe has decided on a 0.1 point reduction in additional contributions paid by statutory health insurees, report FAZ (p19) and SZ (p5) on Friday.
The average additional contribution is lowered from 1.1% to 1.0%. The health ministry's decision is a recommendation rather than a fixed requirement - each health insurer will individually determine how it implements the decrease.
The general rate of contribution is 14.6% of gross salary, divided equally between employees and employers.

Germany far from an opioid epidemic

Germany is unlikely to experience an opioid epidemic similar to the U.S. situation, but regulations on opioids must prevent abuse, reported SZ on Thursday (p16).
According to the German Society of Pain Medicine, only 1-3% of patients with opioid prescriptions develop problematic use in Germany.
"Compared to the U.S., Germany has a well-developed and effective health care system, which is less likely to cause pain patients to switch to illicit substances," addiction specialist Oliver Pogarell told SZ.
U.S. president Donald Trump has ordered the declaration of a public health emergency in response to the escalating opioid epidemic, report FAZ (p5) and SZ (p7) on Friday. The administration is demanding the removal of some prescription opioids from the market.
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