Bayer's experimental drug rivaroxaban, an oral anticoagulant, has been demonstrated to be much more effective than Lovenox injections in preventing blood clots after knee surgery. Lovenox, manufactured by sanofi-aventis, is the standard treatment. A 2,531-patient Phase III clinical trial showed that 9.6% of subjects on rivaroxaban suffered blood clots following total knee replacement versus 18.9% of subjects on Lovenox. Life-threatening VTE (venous thromboembolism) occurred among 1% of the rivaroxaban group and 2.6% for the Lovenox group. Rivaroxaban is a one-a-day pill, giving it an advantage over the injectable Lovenox in terms of patient comfort and ease of monitoring. Sanofi claims Lovenox is more effective against blood clots if taken for five weeks rather than the standard 10-day treatment. The search for anticoagulants has intensified since 2004, when AstraZeneca's drug Exanta was rejected by the FDA over concerns about liver toxicity. Bayer, which is developing rivaroxaban in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson, hopes to submit it for European approval as an anticoagulant later this year and in the U.S. next year. It sees the drug as a potential $2.7 billion-per-year blockbuster if it is approved for use as an anti-stroke therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation. If successful in that capacity, the drug will replace Bristol-Myers Squibb's warfarin. Bayer will submit rivaroxaban for stroke-prevention approval in 2010.
Sources: Reuters, RTTNews, Bloomberg
Commentary: Say Ach Ya To Germany: A Global Powerhouse • Sanofi Can Blame Itself for FDA Rejection of Acomplia Weight Drug • Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb Victorious Over Apotex in Plavix Case
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Bayer AG [ADR] (BAY), sanofi-aventis [ADR] (NYSE:SNY), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). Competitors: Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY). ETFs: WisdomTree International Basic Materials (DBN), iShares MSCI Germany Index (NYSEARCA:EWG), iShares S&P Global Materials (NYSEARCA:MXI)
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