A senior Bayer executive says that the German firm’s healthcare unit is hoping for annual sales growth in China of more than 20% over the next five years.

The comments were made to Reuters by Liam Condon, managing director of Bayer's China healthcare unit who said most predictions say that the sales of medicines in that country will rise by about 20% per year “in the foreseeable future and our goal is to grow above the market”.

Healthcare generates about one-third of Bayer's overall sales in China, and Mr Condon said that sales this year should be in the region of 4.5 billion yuan, or over $650 million. He added that the firm is also looking at potential takeover targets having made its first local acquisition last week.

That deal saw Bayer complete the acquisition of the over-the-counter cough and cold portfolio of China’s Topsun Science and Technology Qidong Gaitianli Pharmaceutical. The firm is paying around 100 millon euros plus contingent payments of 18 million euros, subject to fulfillment of certain performance criteria.

Commenting on that deal, Arthur Higgins, chairman of Bayer HealthCare, said that China is “one of the most dynamic OTC markets in the world” and the transaction “further underscores our commitment to maintain a diversified healthcare portfolio”. Bayer currently operates four manufacturing facilities in the country and is scheduled to complete a $39 million expansion of a plant in Beijing.

Primovist approved in the USA
Meantime there was further good news for Bayer after the US Food and Drug Administration announced that it has approved the firm’s magnetic resonance imaging contrast agent Primovist (gadoxetate disodium) for the detection and characterization of liver lesions in adults with focal liver disease. The product will be marketed in the USA as Eovist (it was approved in Europe in 2004 and in Japan last year) and it is the first organ-specific MRI contrast agent to be approved there for over a decade.