Bayer’s late-stage pharmaceutical pipeline ‘has the potential to transform this business’, according to the firm’s chairman Werner Wenning.

He made the statement at an R&D update presented to analysts and journalists in London, UK this morning, at which it was announced that Phase III clinical testing of Bayer’s cancer drug Nexavar (sorafenib) is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2006 for the additional indication of lung cancer.

“This raises the product’s sales potential to more than 1 billion euros,” said Wenning. Nexavar is partnered with Onyx Pharmaceuticals of the USA and has already been filed for approval in the USA and Europe in the treatment of advanced kidney cancer, with launches expected next year.

Wenning also said Phase III development is getting underway for another potential blockbuster, Bayer’s oral antithrombotic agent - BAY 59-7939 (a Factor Xa inhibitor) - for the prevention of venous thromboembolism. Studies are concentrating on a once-daily 10mg dose of the drug in VTE, while subsequent trials will explore its use in preventing stroke and atrial fibrillation and the treatment of VTE patients.

The drug is being developed in partnership with US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, and will be positioned as an alternative to low molecular weight heparins such as Sanofi-Aventis’ multibillion dollar product Lovenox (enoxaparin) in VTE management.

Wenning also raised the sales forecasts for two well established products, haemophilia treatment Kogenate (recombinant antihaemophilic factor) and Trasylol (aprotinin injection), used to prevent blood loss in patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass surgery.

He said Bayer now expects peak sales of Kogenate to exceed 1 billion euros, helped by the launch of new formulations including one which reduced the risk of needlestick injuries, while Trasylol should now garner more than 500 million euros at its height, boosted by use in a broader spectrum of surgical procedures.

Spending on R&D this year will be approximately 1.9 billion euros.