Bayer is to reacquire some of the marketing rights to its erectile dysfunction offering, Levitra (vardenafil), from UK partner GlaxoSmithKline, at a cost of 208 million euros in cash, the two firms revealed this morning.

Specifically, GSK has returned the co-promotion rights to the major European markets, Asia Pacific, Africa, Latin America and Canada where the two companies currently co-promote the drug. However, there will be no change to the situation in the all-important US market where Bayer markets the drug with GSK under a separate distribution agreement with Schering-Plough [[13/09/04b]]. Bayer will take a 118 million-euro hit to its first quarter 2005 earnings as a result of the agreement, but expects the transaction will add to its earnings in 2006.

A spokesman for GSK told PharmaTimes News Online that the ED although the market has grown overall, it has not increased to the extent that the company had anticipated. He explained that the firm has decided to concentrate its efforts on the products where it sees greatest future growth potential – namely its top-selling drug, Seretide (fluticasone and salmeterol), for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which brought in sales in excess of £1.3 billion in the first half of 2004, and Avandamet (rosiglitazone and metformin) for diabetes. In a statement, David Stout, president of GSK’s pharmaceutical operations, said: “This agreement represents an opportunity for GSK and Bayer to realise the maximum potential from Levitra.”

Levitra has failed to become the blockbuster drug the firms had anticipated, with its sales lagging behind those of its key rivals – Pfizer’s Viagra (sildenafil), and Eli Lilly’s Cialis (tadalafil). However, Bayer remains confident about Levitra’s future potential [[26/11/04a]], and says that the decision was “a logical step” in enhancing its European, Latin American and Asian capabilities, where the firm says it already has a strong primary care organisation.