Hubertus Erlen, chief executive of Germany’s Schering AG, is expecting a new anti-cancer agent – PTK/ZK – currently under development with Novartis, to become a blockbuster drug, with annual sales in excess of one billion euros.

In an interview with German newspaper, Die Welt, Mr Erlen said that both firms could expect a billion euros in sales each from the drug once it is launched. Schering has the European rights to the compound, while Novartis will market the product in the US market. It is expected to hit the market as early as next year and the paper forecasts a launch could take place as early as 2006.

PTK/ZK, which is currently undergoing late-stage testing in colorectal cancer, is designed to target the tumour blood vessels, thereby restricting their growth and ability to spread. Die Welt notes that the compound will only achieve coveted blockbuster status if its use is expanded beyond colorectal cancer.