Schering-Plough says that it has started marketing Bridion, which is designed to help reverse the effects of anaesthesia after surgery, in Europe.

The company noted that it has launched Bridion (sugammadex) injection this week in Sweden, after the thumbs-up was received from the European Commission at the end of July. The product is expected to be available soon in the UK and Germany, with several other European markets set to follow by the end of the year and in early 2009.

The drug, which S-P notes is the only selective relaxant binding agent and “the first major pharmaceutical advance in the field of anaesthesia in two decades”, is approved for the reversal of neuromuscular block induced by rocuronium or vecuronium. The latter are given as part of general anaesthesia to relax a patient's muscles during surgery.

Chief executive Fred Hassan said that "the introduction of Bridion in Europe represents an important advance…and is a significant achievement as we bring our first product to market since combining with Organon BioSciences," S-P acquired sugammadex through its acquisition of the latter from Akzo Nobel in November 2007.

However, Bridion is faring less well in the USA. S-P was stunned by a decision from the Food and Drug Administration last month to issue a ‘not-approvable’ letter for sugammadex, which was particularly surprising given that the drug had been recommended for approval by advisors to the agency.