Schering-Plough has given an upbeat pipeline presentation which shows that the firm has 46 new molecular entities in clinical trials or under regulatory review and 29 in preclinical studies.

Chief executive Fred Hassan said that “our scientists have built a pipeline that we believe is the best in our history and one of the best in the industry”, with nine NMEs in Phase III plus three in pre-registration. Most of the focus was put on the antiplatelet agent Thrombin Receptor Antagonist (TRA), which is in Phase III, and Simponi (golimumab), a once-monthly subcutaneous anti-TNF agent for inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

The latter is under review in the European Union for rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, and is in Phase III for ulcerative colitis. S-P also has high hopes for boceprevir, an oral protease inhibitor for treating hepatitis C with peginterferon and ribavirin combination therapy which is in late-stage trials.

The New Jersey-based firm also noted that it will seek regulatory approval next year for the fertility treatment corifollitropin alfa, a new contraceptive (Nomac/E2), the HIV drug vicriviroc, a combination of formoterol and mometasone as a treatment for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , and a new version of subdermal contraceptive Implanon. Mr Hassan said during a webcast that "we believe we're hitting the sweet spot on product flow and expected exclusivity at a time so many of our competitors will be facing product droughts and patent cliffs".

S-P also spoke confidently about the prospects for Saphris (asenapine) for schizophrenia and Bridion (sugammadex), the first selective relaxant binding agent for reversing neuromuscular blockade in anaesthesia. The latter has been approved in the European Union but rather surprisingly received a not approvable letter in the USA in August. Also the Food And Drug Administration has delayed making a decision on Saphris.

S-P concluded by giving an update on some of its earlier-stage candidates, notably the Parkinson's disease drug preladenant, which met its primary endpoint in a Phase II study.