Bayer has been touting its pipeline and announced plans to increased its R&D spend, especially in healthcare, “despite the current financial and economic crisis”.

Speaking at a press event at the German group’s headquarters in Leverkusen, chairman Werner Wenning said that “only through innovation can our company generate the growth that is essential to safeguard its sustained success”. He noted that Bayer’s R&D budget this year was 2.8 billion euros, 66% of which goes on healthcare and the pharmaceutical pipeline has 50 projects currently in Phases I to III.

Regarding that pipeline, special mention was made of VEGF Trap-Eye for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, which is in Phase III, and two Phase II cardiovascular products – riociguat for the treatment of thromboembolic and arterial pulmonary hypertension and cinaciguat for acute decompensated heart failure.

As for Xarelto (rivaroxaban), which was approved recently in the European Union for venous thromboembolism following elective hip or knee replacement surgery, Mr Wenning told PharmaTimes World News that the roll-out of the anticoagulant has “fully met our expectations” and Bayer is now waiting for the results from clinical studies for further indications which are “already in advanced phases”. The company is confident that Xarelto will be a 2 billion euro blockbuster.

Mr Wenning went on to tell PharmaTimes that given the pricing pressures that are increasing in Europe and the perceived conservatism of regulatory agencies in approving drugs, Bayer is committed to “a balanced cost-benefit ratio” in weighing up what products progress through the pipeline. He added that “we need to show the benefits of our products” and expressed his confidence in the portfolio that has been assembled.

Mr Wenning also urged the German government to provide greater tax breaks for R&D and lower the rate to below 30%. He said that “if we are not to remain at a disadvantage in the international arena, we need stronger support for research-based companies in Germany…otherwise I fear that these important activities could increasingly shift to other countries”. By Kevin Grogan in Leverkusen