Bayer has been boosted by the news that the UK’s drug cost-effectiveness watchdog has recommended that the firm’s oral anti-thrombosis treatment Xarelto has been recommended for reimbursement on the National Health Service.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has given a draft recommendation that Xarelto (rivaroxaban), within its marketing authorisation, is recommended as an option for the prevention of venous thromboembolism in adults having elective total hip or elective total knee replacement surgery. Beverley Hunt, medical director of Lifeblood: The Thrombosis Charity, said that “it is terrific that NICE have reviewed Xarelto so quickly”, saying that the anticoagulant will “greatly reduce the risk of hospital-acquired clots after planned major orthopaedic surgery.”

Xarelto was launched in Europe last October but speaking to PharmaTimes World News at the company’s headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, Arthur Higgins, head of Bayer HealthCare, said that the company has not been aggressively promoting the drug. Xarelto was approved after Boehringer Ingelheim’s thrombin inhibitor Pradaxa (Dabigatran) got the thumbs-up for prevention of blood clots after hip or knee replacement surgery, as well.

However Mr Higgins said that Bayer has been concentrating on premarketing Xarelto, adding that the hip and knee indication is a means towards an end. The drug brought in around 20-30 million euros last year but he said that at the moment, “it’s about getting people used to the product, it’s not about sales”.

Mr Higgins said that the big money will come when Bayer gets Xarelto approved for the chronic indications, notably a potential use to prevent strokes in people with atrial fibrillation.

Bayer, which developed Xarelto with Johnson & Johnson, expects sales of 2 billion euros a year from the drug in all indications. It is scheduled to be reviewed by a US Food and Drug Administration advisory committee on March 19.