Schering AG showed it was a sound choice for Bayer to walk down the aisle with after unveiling nine-month net sales up 9% to 4.18 billion euros, helped along in no small measure by its multiple sclerosis drug Betaferon (interferon beta 1b) and the contraceptive Yasmin (ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone).

Betaferon continued to tread a successful path, with revenues jumping 16% to 727 million euros; and its strength is showing little signs of abating after gaining marketing approval in Europe, Canada and the USA at the end of October for treating the earliest stages of MS - a potentially huge new market. The approval was based on the results of the BENEFIT trial, which showed that giving Betaferon in the early stages of the disease reduced the risk of developing full-blown MS by 50% compared to placebo.

Meanwhile Yasmin, the world's biggest selling contraceptive, demonstrated its longevity with sales rising one-third (33%) to 566 million euros. Last month the company also secured a new US label for YAZ, a member of the Yasmin portfolio and the fastest growing brand of contraceptive in the USA, to treat the emotional and physical symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder - a severe form of premenstrual syndrome. In fact, North America is proving to be a healthy market overall for Schering, with sales in the USA up 18% over last year and 21% in Latin America/Canada. Europe was less strong, with revenues boosted just 5%.

Schering says stripping out one-time costs primarily relating to divestments and the forthcoming tie-up with Bayer, operating profits soared 20% to 853 million euros. Including the additional expenses resulted in a net profit 3% down on last year's 480 million euros. The company is in the final throes of its marriage to fellow German firm Bayer; the firm subsequently will be renamed Bayer Schering Pharma AG.

Meanwhile, with so few outstanding Schering shares in circulation leading up to the merger, the New York Stock Exchange has taken the decision to suspend trading in the its American Depositary Receipts and transfer them to the open market. It also plans to apply to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for Schering to be de-listed in the USA.