German drugmaker Schwarz Pharma was given a lift yesterday after a European Medicines Agency advisory panel gave its backing to Neupro (rotigotine), a patch based drug for early-stage Parkinson’s disease.

Schwarz said it now hopes to be able to introduce the product in the first half of 2006, pending full EMEA approval, and could bring in 350 million euros ($420m) in peak annual sales. The company licensed the product from Aderis Pharmaceuticals earlier this year for 58 million euros.

Schwarz is also developing Neupro for restless legs syndrome, an indication that could add an additional 300 million euros to its sales potential.

Meanwhile, in addition to Neupro, Schwarz has a number of other products in development that should accelerate its efforts to focus more on proprietary products and less on generics. The company will shortly file for approval of fesoterodine for the treatment of overactive bladder. Meanwhile, lacosamide, a treatment for neuropathic pain and epilepsy, is in Phase III trials.

- Meanwhile, the EMEA committee also recommended approval of GlaxoSmithKline’s Rotarix, a vaccine to protect against rotavirus gastroenteritis in adults and children aged over six weeks. Rotarix is already launched in Mexico.

GSK is competing head-to-head with Merck & Co in the rotavirus vaccination market: earlier this week the latter’s RotaTeq vaccine was recommended for approval in the USA.