Having posted a strong set of third-quarter results, boosted by the freshly-acquired Schering AG, Bayer has been laying out its future plans to become one of the world’s leading specialty pharmaceuticals firms.

Speaking at the company’s autumn press conference in Leverkusen, Germany, chairman Werner Wenning said that the integration process of Bayer Schering Pharma is well under way, noting that “the keys to success in this respect are speed and determination.”

Major organisational decisions have already been made, such as the new entity being headquartered in Berlin and restructuring in the USA which will lead to the loss of over 800 jobs. The changes in the USA alone will achieve annual savings of around 165 million euros by the end of 2008 but Mr Wenning was quick to point out that”of course this is not only about synergies.”

This was a point taken up by Arthur Higgins, chairman of Bayer HealthCare, who told PharmaTimes World News that, although “integration is something we have to do,” this process is taking place with as little disruption as possible. "From their [Schering’s] perspective, it is business as usual,” he said, noting that a successful merger involves intelligent prioritising of key projects.

When pressed on how the pipeline review was going, Higgins stated that over 130 projects have been evaluated and, while decisions have been already made, Bayer will not disclose specific details until the spring of next year.

However, Wenning told PharmaTimes Word News that the portfolio of the combined entity shows “great growth potential [and] what we’ve found has encouraged us.” In terms of Bayer products, he highlighted the kidney cancer treatment Nexavar (sorafenib tosylate), which was brought to market in the USA at the end of last year in record time, three years faster than the industry average.

Third-quarter sales of the drug came to 37 million euros and should hit the 100 million euro mark for the full year, “yet we have nowhere near exhausted the potential of Nexavar.” He added that it is already in advanced clinical trials for the treatment of liver, skin and lung cancer. Wenning also noted that the oral antithrombosis drug rivaroxaban, “a Factor Xa inhibitor with blockbuster potential,” is currently in Phase III trials.

Regarding Schering products, Wenning said the firm has “significantly strengthened the blockbuster potential of the globally successful Yasmin (ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone) product family,” noting that the recent registration of the oral contraceptive Yaz in the United States was expanded to include the treatment of severe premenstrual symptoms. As for Betaferon (interferon beta 1b), recently-granted additional indications make it “the only high-dose, high-frequency interferon beta approved to treat early-stage multiple sclerosis patients.”

He went on to stress the importance of in-licensing, mentioning the deal recently signed with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals of the USA concerning the development of a substance that is currently in Phase I and II as a therapy for serious eye diseases.

Mr Wenning concluded by saying that Bayer’s consumer health, crop science and materials units are all performing solidly but, “in the coming year, we will place major emphasis on driving forward the integration of Schering,” thus establishing “a clearly focused, fast-growing pharmaceuticals business.”

His upbeat message impressed analysts and the figures were described as “very positive” by Dresdner Kleinwort, which said that the results revealed excellent underlying business performance. Brokers at Landesbank Rheinland-Pfalz upgraded Bayer to outperformer from marketperformer.