Bayer’s developmental drug for thrombosis, BAY 59-7939, will be developed in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson, under the terms of a cross-licensing agreement announced by the companies today.

J&J has agreed to a licensing package valued at up to $290 million dollars in upfront and milestone payments, and would pay Bayer a royalty rate of up to 30% in the USA, depending on sales thresholds. BAY 59-739 is an orally bioavailable recombinant Factor Xa inhibitor, currently in Phase II testing, and is scheduled to start Phase III trials in the prevention of venous thromboembolism in patients undergoing surgery ‘in the next few weeks’, according to Bayer.

J&J’s Ortho McNeil unit will market the drug in the USA and will share global development costs. Ortho will sell it to the cardiology, primary care and hospital specialty markets, while Bayer will retain an option to co-promote the drug in the hospital and specialty markets. The German firm also retains have sole marketing rights for the compound in countries outside of the USA.

As an oral drug, BAY 59-7939 could represent a more patient-friendly alternative to low molecular weight heparins, the current gold standard for preventing VTE, which have to be delivered by injection. Analysts have suggested this profile could make it a blockbuster drug with sales in excess of $1 billion a year [[08/08/05a]]. It is also in trials for VTE treatment and stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation.

Under the terms of the deal, Bayer also gets co-promotion rights for Ortho-McNeil’s Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) for the relief of bladder pain or discomfort associated with interstitial cystitis in the USA. Bayer said this product would bolster its Specialty Pharmaceuticals unit. It will receive the full profit on US sales of the drug into the urology sector.

- Meanwhile, Bayer is reportedly planning to sell off its R&D activities in the infectious diseases area, according to Financial Times Deutschland. The move could happen as early as this year or early in 2006, said the newspaper. Bayer wants to focus its research activities in cancer and cardiovascular diseases.