Germany’s Bayer has posted a 46% rise in net income to 660 million for the second quarter, helped by a 231 million euro gain on the divestment of its Wolff Walsrode unit, with its healthcare division once again proving to be the driving force.

The Leverkusen-based firm noted that group sales were up 22% to 8.22 billion euros, with healthcare making up 3.72 billion euros of that figure, a leap of almost 65%. Pharmaceuticals contributed 2.58 billion of that total, a huge climb of over 117% as products from Schering AG drove up the total, notably the Yasmin (ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone) contraceptive franchise, which rose 38.1% to 250 million euros.

Sales of the haemophilia agent Kogenate (recombinant antihaemophilic factor), rose 17.3% to 210 million euros, though one slight blot on the financial landscape was the news that revenues from Betaferon/Betaseron (interferon beta 1b), for multiple sclerosis, were only up 2.8% as a result of a negative currency impact, though it was still the group’s best-selling drug at 256 million euros. The erectile dysfunction drug Levitra (vardenafil), was up 11% to 81 million euros, while Mirena, the firm’s levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine contraceptive system, contributed 88 million euros, up 17.3%.

Much of the buzz around Bayer at the moment revolves around Nexavar (sorafenib), which is currently approved as a treatment for advanced kidney cancer, and brought in 60 million euros, up 160.9% on the corresponding period last year. There was one blot on the sales sheet, however, with the performance of Trasylol (aprotinin), which is used to reduce blood loss during heart surgery. Revenues fell 18.4% (though no sales figure was given), hurt by the US Food and Drug Administration's insistence on a new label last year which highlights the possible risk of kidney damage associated with taking the drug, a claim disputed by Bayer.

Overall, however, there is no disputing that Bayer has had a good first half of the year and this trend is expected to continue for the rest of 2007 at least. Chairman Werner Wenning said the firm continues to target an increase of more than 10% in group sales for the full year, having already raised earnings margin guidance for 2007 and 2009 in June, to more than 20% and over 22% respectively.

Mr Wenning added that the integration of Schering is proceeding more quickly than planned, with synergies of more than 800 million euros expected to be realised by 2009.