Bayer has been highlighting the success of its pipeline and predicting that five of its drugs will enjoy peak annual sales of more than 5.5 billion euros.

Speaking at the company's innovation forum in Leverkusen, chairman Marijn Dekkers (pictured) noted that Bayer will once again have invested some 3 billion euros in R&D in 2012 alone and the pharma pipeline consists of 35 projects. Its research efforts of late have come up trumps and hopes are high for the aforementioned five drugs - the anticoagulant Xarelto (rivaroxaban), the cancer drugs Stivarga (regorafenib) and Alpharadin (radium-223 dichloride), the eye medicine VEGF Trap-Eye (aflibercept) and riociguat to treat pulmonary hypertension.

Bayer has consistently predicted that Xarelto will be a 2 billion euro product, at least. Dr Dekkers claimed that the drug can prevent two out of three strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation, and - by contrast with other novel anticoagulants - needs only be taken once daily.

Wolfgang Plischke, the Bayer board member responsible for innovation, technology and environment, told the meeting that pacts with research institutes, universities and start-up companies have now become an integral part of the innovation culture of all research-based companies". He added that "it is no longer possible for companies to achieve everything on their own".

Prof Plischke went on to say that external collaborations now account for nearly one-quarter of the R&D budget, with biology projects receiving two-thirds of the total. Last year, he said, the close-to-7,500 R&D staff at Bayer HealthCare submitted 146 patent applications and were involved in 326 cooperation projects.